The Millions

A Year in Reading: Anthony Veasna So

Editor’s note: The writer Anthony Veasna So passed away unexpectedly on December 8. We are publishing his Year in Reading entry with this note from his partner, Alex Torres. Anthony’s friends and family have created a memorial fund to establish scholarships in Anthony’s name.

***

When I met Anthony in college, back in 2014, he was taking a class on Moby Dick. In between making penis jokes (his not-so-subtle way of flirting), he’d go on about the beauty of individual sentences and words, like “portentous.” He’d say that nothing was more beautiful than Melville’s images of squeezing sperm. 

Anthony thought it was “beyond stupid” (his words, not mine) to read the entire book, so he read the Cetology chapter (the one where Ishmael goes on and on about the zoology of whales) about 20 times instead. He loved details and tangents; he had faith in digressions. He never finished Moby Dick, but if I’m being honest I doubt that Anthony finished any book, except of course for the books that formed his teaching load.

The reading habit that he talks about in this essay started with Moby Dick. InsteadBroad CityMoby Dick

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