Tag Archives: Moby-Dick

Greylock in the Berkshires

On  Saturday, June 24, 2017 at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead, Berkshire Historical Society, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, I had the privilege to present my supernatural mystery Greylock to local residents and readers.

Arrowhead lies at the foot of Mt. Greylock. Because my novel takes place on Mt. Greylock and is about the supernatural powers of music … of whales … and much more … Arrowhead was an ideal location for this book reading event and signing.

[Courtesy Berkshire County Historical Society.]

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The Russian beluga whales in the novel Greylock are nothing near the size of Melville’s Moby Dick, and Melville didn’t write much about his singing whale, but in Greylock, the songs of the beluga whales are a driving entity for the character Alexei Georg, a classical pianist. Murder, music, mystery on Mt. Greylock is haunted suspense where music itself is a character.

Arrowhead is a place of inspiration. There is such a thing as ‘power of place’ in that Melville sought solitude for his imagination. Arrowhead provided that reach for Melville’s true creative powers to soar. Many thanks to Peter Bergman of the Berkshire Historical Society for his invitation to bring my novel Greylock to  Arrowhead. Arrowhead opens a new exhibit this June. This month marks the 61st anniversary of the 1956 film Moby Dick. The exhibit is movie memorabilia and props used in the film.

Greylock in the Berkshires!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Supernatural Power of Music

As part of my presentation of  the story and characters in Greylock, I discussed the supernatural power of music. The account of violinist Giuseppe Tartini’s sonata “The Devil’s Trill” is a perfect example. Alexei’s cousin, Josef, knows all about this sonata and explains what powers lie in music.

So, I asked my audience …

“Do You Believe in Music Phantoms?”

 [2-minute video]

If you don’t believe in music phantoms, this is the story that will test your resolve.

 

 

Greylock in the Berkshires!

Here are some quick images of my spectacular weekend in the Berkshires at Arrowhead. We stayed at Hotel On North in Pittsfield. Five-star accommodations. Their restaurant, raw bar, and quality service made the weekend spectacular. Highly recommended if you are visiting the Berkshires.

Cozy lounge for a champagne toast.

 

Naturally, the gift shop at Arrowhead carries Greylock, as well as the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, and, on the summit of Mt. Greylock at the Bascom Lodge. Local area libraries and bookshops too.

The Most Inspiring Mountain in Massachusetts

Mt. Greylock is inspiring for many writers, Thoreau and Hawthorne to name a few. J.K. Rowlings, author of the Harry Potter series, has claimed Mt. Greylock for her fiction too. Her new story (Fantastic Beasts) has Ilvermorny founded by an Irish witch who started a school for wizards at the top of Mount Greylock.

 

 

Here’s something Herman Melville wrote about reading: 

“…the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable,

are those books we pick up by chance here and there …”

 

 

Greylock has over 60 reviews at AMAZON.COM

“Greylock is a smart, entertaining supernatural thriller. Think Stephen King meets Raymond Chandler with a score by Tchaikovsky. The author’s passion for both the arts and the natural world shines through on every page. Briskly paced and yet lovingly detailed, this novel was a genuine pleasure to read.” —David Corbett, best-selling and award-winning author of The Mercy of the Night.

U.S. Review of Books: “Cappa’s latest is nothing less than a mind-boggling mystery … always keeping an elusive edge to her characters’ personas—a plot replete with all the wonderful trappings of a romance-laced mystery with unexpected twists and turns.”

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Melville on Mt. Greylock

Melville in Love, The Secret Life of Melville and the Muse of Moby-Dick

 by Michael Shelden  (2016)

 

BOOK REVIEW

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Did you know that Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick (the finest sea-faring novel ever written), climbed Mt. Greylock? In 1851 Melville climbed Mt. Greylock on the trail called Bellows Pipe. This ‘excursion to Greylock’ was by wagon and horses, and on foot. What is most amazing is that he made the climb with his secret lover Mrs. Sarah Moorewood. Sarah was a “wild beauty” who rode a colt named Black Quake. She had a salacious reputation that would make men tremble in her presence.  And Herman Melville fell into her lusty charms.

The excursion to Greylock included a party of ten—family (no spouses) and friends—complete with brandy cherries, champagne, rum, port wine and gallons of enthusiasm. Before sunset they reached the hazy blue, white, and green mountaintop, viewed the watery atmosphere, “the air cool and pungent with the smell of balsam.” After dining by firelight, and under the stars, Herman and Sarah found themselves a private escape and made love for the first time on Greylock’s summit. A night that was “too merry for sleep” as Sarah wrote in her essay some time later.

“They did what would have come naturally to two people in love, taking advantage of the late hour and the darkness to enjoy a passionate bond that had been growing for more than a year.”

I’ve been reading a thrilling biography of Herman Melville, Melville in Love, The Secret Life of Melville and the Muse of Moby-Dick by Michael Sheldon. Of course the scandal in the story is that both Melville and Moorewood were wed to others at the time. Sheldon writes of Melville’s muse, the woman and the mountain. Melville grew obsessed with Sarah, a dark and mysterious beauty just as Ahab grew obsessed with his ghostly white whale. The pursuit, the chase, the desires drove his creativity and his sexuality in a parallel race. This book is a stunning narrative prose that reads like a novel. Impossible to put down, Melville in Love deserves a place on your book shelf right next to Moby-Dick.

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“Arrowhead” Farmhouse in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

In writing my own mystery Greylock, which takes place on Mt. Greylock and also deals with whales, I studied about Melville (and other creative artists like Hawthorne and Thoreau who climbed Mt. Greylock) and his years at “Arrowhead,” his farm at the foot of Mt. Greylock, where he wrote Moby-Dick in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He could view Mt. Greylock from his desk by the window, viewing the great slopes in the northern sky every day, writing and writing and writing his masterpiece. But none of the biographies I read pointed to an illicit affair by the author with the sexy and flirtatious Sarah Moorewood who lived nearby in Pittsfield. She was his neighbor, for heaven’s sake.

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During the 1850s, Moby-Dick was a commercial disappointment, negative reviews, selling only 3000 copies and earning him just $500. But Melville was truly inspired as he put pen to paper. Melville’s deep and passionate love of Sarah Moorehead with her grace and beauty and intelligence became his muse to write his epic sea drama of the obsessed and mad Ahab in pursuit of his wicked whale. In fact, after Moby-Dick was completed, Melville wrote a scathing love story, Pierre, which reflected his love affair with Sarah.  However, that one proved to be a failure as well.

Biographer Michael Sheldon brings the reader through Melville’s private adventures with rich descriptions; quite fast-paced, this biography is vivid with the emotional life and mindset of Melville. You won’t be disappointed or bored. Not a single page gets tedious.

Herman Melville Website.

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If you are looking for a delicious summer read where history, literature, and nature are provocative elements, Melville in Love is a mesmerizing portrait of two lovers in a heart-breaking story.

OTHER REVIEWS

“A scandalous surprise… Shelden carefully and convincingly presents his evidence regarding Morewood’s influence and how she inspired Melville to a greatness recognized by few of his peers… This well-paced, enjoyable read is a must for Melville fans.” — Library Journal

“Riveting in its incandescent sense of discovery, intimacy, and velocity, Shelden’s bound-to-be-controversial anatomy of a clandestine love transforms our perception of Melville and introduces “one of the great unsung figures in literary history.” — Booklist, Starred Review

Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts

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Michael Sheldon is author of 6 biographies,

including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Orwell: The Authorized Biography.


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