Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ode to Peter Benchley

The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail.
This is the opening line of Jaws. It would be an understatement to say I'm a fan of Peter Benchley's modern Melvillian horror novel. Ever since I first saw Spielberg's classic on VHS at no more than 5 years old I've been a shark enthusiast. When I graduated to reading the novel at around 12 or 13 I tore through it in a day. Every couple of years or so I return to it. It makes me feel like a child again, scared to peer into the abyss, afraid that glimmer of teeth will explode out of the water, wrenching me into the deep.

It's nice to feel that fear circulate and then attack your spine every so often.

In honor of Peter Benchley, who died this past Saturday at 65, Slate has a great little article dedicated to Jaws as a pulp novel. It's very good and worthy of your eyes.