Donovan Hohn

For his long, very entertaining and digressive pop-science book, Donovan Hohn supplies a suitably expansive title: Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them (Viking, $27.95). His quest begins in large part owing to Seattle oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who helped Seattle Weekly track those mysterious floating feet a few years back. Hohn's mission is less morbid. He starts out in New York, knowing little about waves, tides, and salinity, then visits Seattle, Alaska, the Arctic, and beyond while pursuing the errant yellow ducks and educating himself about the oceans. The book’s not just another screed about our overconsumption and waste, however; Hohn enjoyably incorporates into his account autobiography, first-rate reporting, and pop-culture analysis. (Why are yellow bath ducks such a resonant, innocent symbol of domestic life? Think back to Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie” song on Sesame Street.) An unlikely, likeable mariner who mooches rides on several expeditions, Hohn always avoids the high, solemn McPheeist tone of environmental erudition. His process of learning is simply following and listening. The waves push him this way and that, just like the gyrating scientific theories about our tempest-tossed trash. Can his forlorn flock of rubber ducks, originally bound for Tacoma in ’92, circumnavigate the globe? Maybe not, but Hohn’s book deserves to be just as widely circulated. (Also: Third Place, 7 p.m. Tues.) BRIAN MILLER

Sun., April 17, 2 p.m.; Tue., April 19, 7 p.m., 2011

 
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