The New York City Marathon is canceled, but the Moby-Dick Marathon is still on

The New York City Marathon is canceled, but the Moby-Dick Marathon is still on
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A great American novel is getting its running shoes on.

A weekend-long marathon reading of Herman Melville’s classic whale-tale “Moby-Dick” is due to take over the city — 624 pages spread over Manhattan and Brooklyn — with a powerhouse roster of readers, including literary heavies like Jonathan Ames, Sarah Vowell, Lev Grossman, and Adam Wilson.

The real champions, though, will be the ones sitting through some of the notoriously boring chapters of this whale of a book, organizers say.

“There’s those chapters on whale biology, that will be tough,” said Jenn Northington, the event manager at WORD in Greenpoint, where the marathon will kick off on Nov. 16. “I do feel for those people.”

But much like a street marathon, there will be ups to go with the downs. One highlight should be listening to the most delicious chapter in the book — one dedicated strictly to the eating of chowder — while munching down on some clam chowder provided by Gowanus clam spot Littleneck, and sipping on beer.

At 26 hours, the reading is more than six times the duration of the average New York City marathon — but its designed to keep first-time listeners from dropping out.

“Amateurs shouldn’t be scared, we set it up so it’s not overnight,” said Amanda Bullock, a director at the Housing Works Bookstores who came up with the idea for the event in New York City after attending the long running 25 consecutive-hour Moby-Dick marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts.

Instead this marathon will take place in four legs at three bookstores in the borough, two of which — WORD and Molasses — are in Brooklyn.

“We thought there was space for a New York City marathon,” said Bullock. “Melville was born here, he died here – the book begins here — and we have such a wealth of talent [for readers] here.”

And the book is still popular in the borough.

WORD said it sells five copies of the more than 150-year old work every month.

Plus, for those who haven’t read “Moby Dick,” the marathon is the next best thing to getting the audiobook.

“If you want to read Moby-Dick, you get to take care of it all in one weekend,’ said Bullock.

The NYC Moby-Dick marathon at WORD [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street, in Greenpoint. (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com]. Nov. 16, 5 pm–midnight and at Molasses Books [770 Hart St. between Knickerbocker and Wilson avenues in Bushwick, (631) 882–5188]. Nov. 17, 4 pm–midnight.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.