The Penguin Book of the Ocean
Penguin, $35 pb, 496 pp
Imagine a bookshop or library whose contents were shelved in a cross-generic way to include a section for Anthologies: this surely would be the largest division, encompassing all of the subsections of literature, science, music, philosophy ... The anthology (‘gathering of flowers’), with its impeccable classical pedigree, is the most comprehensive kind of book, catering in the contemporary reading economy to every conceivable market, from astral travelling, through gay fiction, ghost stories, long/short/tall stories, poetry of all persuasions, to travel in Turkey and Great Zoos of the World. There is a burgeoning publishers’ trade for the literary anthology – a ‘safe’ book, the serious reader’s stocking-filler, something with at least a few contributions calculated to entertain or edify.