Herman Melville’s Billy Budd

Well, Saturday, (April 28) I’ll be riding with Kathy Patrick (owner of Beauty and the Book and founder of the Pulpwood Queens) to Linwood, Texas, to be at her table for the city’s annual Wildflower Festival. I’ll sell some books there (Stories of the Confederate South) and promote my upcoming children’s book, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House. I’m not sure what to expect, but knowing Kathy, I know I’ll be busy and meeting lots of people. I’ve got to meet her at 8:00 a.m., so it looks like I’ll have to get a hotel Friday night.  Otherwise, I’d have to get up at 3:00 a.m. to drive there in time. I am so NOT a morning person these days. Kathy Patrick has done more to promote authors and literacy than anyone I’ve ever known. You can explore her site here: http://beautyandthebook.com/authorsP.htm

If you haven’t already, take the time to read my short story I entered in the Booklocker twenty-four hour short story contest. It’s my April 22 entry. It’s a love story and it’s called, “Adrift in Charleston.” I think it’s one of my better stories.
The school year is finally winding down. The students get spring/summer fever this time of year, so they seem a little harder to control. In addition, I’ve had bus duty for the past two weeks, and since I don’t get to leave school until 4:00 or later, it makes for a long day. Only four more weeks of school, and then I launch into my book tour. I’ll have more entries on my new children’s book, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House soon.

My honors students have just finished a reading, study, and discussion of Melville’s Billy Budd. Most did well on the test. Some of the students even picked up on the dark, homo-erotic themes Melville subtly addressed. We all learned facts about the life of a sailor in the 18th century. This was my second reading of the novella, and I enjoyed it tremendously. I marked so many good lines, but this one reminded me of certain truths a writer must face.:

“Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges (84).” (He’s talking about the truth of fiction writing here). In addition to the text itself, the edition I used had wonderful notes. There are several good sites on the Web as well that relate to Billy Budd.

The MLA works cited entry for the edition I used to teach them was:

Melville, Herman. Billy Budd, Sailor. New York: Pocket Books, 1999.