Book Review: Moby Duck

"A loon is not really mad or, so far as it's concerned, mysterious. A duck is not really a clown; it waddles inelegantly because it's body has evolved to dabble and dice and swim. A rubber duck, by comparison, is not burdened with thought. It is thought, the immaterial made material, a subjective object, a fantasy in 3-D. "

"A loon is not really mad or, so far as it's concerned, mysterious. A duck is not really a clown; it waddles inelegantly because it's body has evolved to dabble and dice and swim. A rubber duck, by comparison, is not burdened with thought. It is thought, the immaterial made material, a subjective object, a fantasy in 3-D. "

Moby Duck

Donovan Hohn

2011

 

Moby Duck is Donovan Hohn’s 2011 tale of retracing the voyage of 28,000 plastic bath toys that fell adrift in the mid-Pacific in 1992. Shelved in the science section, Hohn’s intriguing title boasts of following the “oceanographers, environmentalists, and fools...who follow them” and while the characters are compelling and the framework is certainly unique, Hohn misses the scientific mark in his accounts of his literal duck chase. Focusing more on his own life and the trajectory of his investigation than the science he promises, the book is entertaining even if it’s not edifying. Hohn attempts to follow the trajectory of these bath toys and links their tale to the potential for understanding the world’s problem with plastics and the movement of global-scale ocean currents. As a scientist, I found the stories in Moby Duck trite, as Hohn barely gives face time to the science at hand. As a general reader however, the story is intriguing and Hohn’s investigative eccentricity is fun. Don't put this at the top of your list, but if you find yourself wanting for something scientifically trivial and escapist, Moby Duck is worth picking up, even if it's mis-shelved in the Science section.