I first saw Moby Duck at the Monterey Bay Aquarium gift shop. The colorful duck cover art and tale of 28,800 bath toys lost at sea inspired me to track down a substantially less expensive copy from Amazon, and then let it languish on my nightstand until a few weeks ago, when I recommitted myself to working my way through my stack of nightstand reading.
I wanted to like Moby Duck. I wanted Moby Duck to be like Ninety Percent of Everything (which is fabulous, go read it now), with perhaps a bit of environmentalism and oceanography thrown in.
I remember my dad telling me about the 1992 container ship accident that set the rubber ducks adrift in the ocean currents, providing fascinating data for scientists to study and unique objects for beachcombers to discover.
While Hahn covers some of the science, what is there, is buried under superfluous adjectives and marred by his obsession with Melville. What could be a fabulous read on oceanography, environmentalism, mass production, and the shipping industry falls flat.
I am disappointed, Moby Duck could have gone so many interesting places. The science is good, the interviews are good, some of the travel-log stuff is good, but really, it could be about a third shorter, cutting out the vapid attempts at personal reflection.
So with that in mind, I present articles that are more to point, sort of a cliff-notes version:
- What can 28,000 rubber ducks lost at sea tell us about our oceans?
- Lost at sea: On the trail of Moby Duck
- Friendly Floatees – Wikipedia
In short, I would not read again, would not recommend, and will probably donate to the library book sale.