My Great-Grandfather’s Place in the Canon

(She Blows! catch-up post, one of three.)

A year and a day ago, I wrote a post about my great-grandfather’s novel She Blows! And Sparm at That! One of the things I wrote was that I thought he’d had some success as a writer, but that I didn’t really know for sure; I still don’t know as much as I wish I did, but I did finally notice the Publishers’ Note in the front of the edition we have (which I finally finished reading this past summer):


It has seemed to the publishers that both the critical reception and the steady popularity of William J. Hopkins’s “She Blows! and Sparm at That!” not only justify but demand its inclusion in the Riverside Bookshelf. For this purpose it has been revised and materially shortened by the author, entirely reset in a new and larger font of type, and the illustrations by Clifford W. Ashley reproduced in full color. In this format, it is hoped, it will be more attractive to younger readers and its position as one of the great whaling classics more definitely assured.

Which makes me feel even worse about how long it took me to finally finish reading it—in a civilization-is-going-to-hell, we’re-all-doomed-by-our-own-short-attention-spans sort of way.

My current reading list—which includes titles like John Freeman’s The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox and Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, among others—isn’t helping in this regard.