Tuesday 27 August 2013

REVIEW: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Moby Dick, by Gideon Defoe (4*)

(Bloomsbury, 2012)

"'It's not going too well, is it, Pirate Captain?' said the scarf-wearing pirate, staring at the conspicuously whaleless sea.  'I'm worried that perhaps this whaling business is a little more difficult than we thought.  Possibly that's why Ahab said he'd been chasing the whale for years.'"

This review really boils down to a very simple message.  IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ONE OF THESE BOOKS YET JUST GET ON WITH IT ALREADY.  Because they're funny and cheerful and warm and just a little bit naughty, and if you don't try one you'll never know if the humour clicks with yours or not.  If nothing else, you'll learn something from the helpful trivia footnotes (for example, this time I learned the origins of the phrase "freezing the balls off a brass monkey"...).  Soooo, go hit the library or something.

In this second installment of the series, the pirates buy a beautiful new boat from Cutlass Liz (who is AWESOME by the way) and spend the rest of the book trying to work out how to pay her off before their time runs out and she kills them horribly.  All your favourite elements are in there - the Pirate Captain's beard and pleasant, open face, the long-suffering pirate with a scarf, the Pirate Captain's charming nemesis Black Bellamy and some ship's biscuits (bourbons preferable).  Throw in a chance encounter with grizzly old Ahab, a prize ham, a randy whale, a casino, a lesbian albatross, a sexy figurehead and a compelling yet moving one-man show and you've got... well, just another Pirates! adventure, really.  The perfect way to while away an idle afternoon and put a mischievous grin on your face!  Oh, and don't worry if you haven't read Moby Dick - I haven't either, but so long as you know the absolute basics (y'know, whale, sea captain, Pequod, long rambling discourses about whaling) you'll be just fine.  :)

BONUS POINTS - for this: "I wanted to tell you one thing - Pirate Captain, you were always my favourite pupil.  Certainly you were much better than the others in your class, whom I regarded merely as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal."  ONE OF MY FAVOURITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME. 

EXTRA BONUS POINTS - for the little extras Defoe always includes at the back of the book.  This time there's some handy information about whale conservation, Nantucket and debt ("Like the Pirate Captain, more people than ever are getting into serious debt, with the accompanying risks of depression, worry and not being able to buy things that you want").  He rounds off the whole thing with an exhaustive list of non-existent (but they totally should!) Pirates! titles, including The Pirates! In an Adventure with Risk Management, The Pirates and the Edge of Reason, The Pirates! Learn German in Five Easy Lessons, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Shaft and perhaps my particular favourite, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Jazzy Jeff.  Hopefully that one would feature the Pirate Captain being forcibly ejected from a Bel Air mansion.  Horizontally. 

Notable Quotables:

  • "In the boat's dining room the rest of the pirates were already tucking into their lunch.  On board a pirate boat it wasn't considered rude to start before everybody was present, and you could even put your elbows on the table.  Those were just two of the perks that attracted people to the piratical life."
  • "Because the pirate in green didn't have the Pirate Captain's firm grasp of economics, he wasn't sure he understood the exact way in which false economy worked, but he vaguely remembered that it tended to crop up a lot when the Pirate Captain was shopping for meat and fancied treating himself to something from the butcher's Finest range."
  • "Out from the churning swell came the tip of something white, and it kept on coming until there, rising up on its tail, was the biggest whale any of the pirates had ever seen.  If the pirates had been alive a hundred and fifty years later and had happened to be drawing the diagrams in biology textbooks, they would have said the whale was as tall as three double-decker buses stacked on top of each other, or about a half of one St. Paul's Cathedral.  But they weren't, so they just thought that the whale was really very big indeed."

Source:  Hanna sent me this one for my birthday.  Very fitting, since she's the one who got me hooked in the first place!  :)