About as Much Substance as You’d Expect

…from a ghost.

Continuing the “time to fit the books into the bookcases” project, I read Arthur C. Clarke’s The Ghost From the Grand Banks.  I believe I picked this up a few years ago at a library book sale where one walked out with a grocery sack of books for a dollar or two.  I own many books by Clarke and he was certainly a favorite when I was young and that is why I bought this.

It turns out that I have read this previously, but it is so forgettable that I forgot.

Briefly, the book covers the race between two enterprises to raise the Titanic in 2012, the 100 year anniversary of the sinking.  Clarke comes up with two completely different concepts on how the ship might be raised.  I’ll refrain from giving away how and whether they work.  There is little character development and the slightest bit of suspense.

A few weeks ago, I caught some parts of an old movie on TCM, the title of which I do not remember.   I do remember a scene where the literary critic renders his verdict on the protagonist’s just published novel.  The critic spent some time on how the book was filled out with wide margins and other tricks to at least look like a real novel even though it was barely more than a short story.

The Ghost From the Grand Banks runs 253 pages with ten pages of title, copyright, contents, etc.; seven plus pages of Sources and Acknowledgments and a twelve page appendix that is adapted from a lecture Clarke gave on Mandelbrot numbers.  Mandelbrot numbers do appear in the book, but not in any way that is necessary to the plot.

So the book runs 284 pages.  There are four parts, each of which is begun with a full page for the title of the part.  There are 44 chapters with each chapter title taking up half a page.  There are 28 completely blank pages found between the chapters, inserted wherever necessary to push the  new chapter to the odd numbered page.  That totals 54 of the 284 pages that are blank.  The margins are wide.  Many chapters end with just a few lines on the last page.

Finally, the paper is thick.  The Complete Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a bit less than one eighth of an inch thicker and it runs 566 pages (double). The Plutarch volume of the Great Books of the Western World series is the same thickness and it runs 905 pages (triple).

I would say that it is too bad The Ghost of the Grand Banks did not go to the same length as the publisher went to to hide it’s brevity, but more of this book would not be better.

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My Time to Waste