I love nautical themed entertainment. Though I’m not the most sea worthy, I have taken scuba diving lessons, my Great Grandfather was a merchant seaman, and I even have a sperm whale and colossal squid in the midst of battle tattooed on my arm.
I picked up Fluke or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore to help split up a collection I’m reading, the 3-in-1 Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell. I thought having a nice comedy break from crime fiction would prolong my enjoyment of the series. This was my first Moore novel, and it won’t be the last.
Fluke is part comedy, part science fiction/science fact. As I understand it, the author is drawing heavily from his experiences with marine biologists. He even lived in Maui for a time, which is where our story is set. This helps fill in the science facts (more or less) for our rag-tag group of whale biologists and research enthusiasts.
The characters are interesting and hilarious. I haven’t laughed this much reading a novel, since Kurt Vonnegut. Our main man is Nate, a respected veteran of the research community, and leader of our group, who doubts his sanity after spotting a whale with ‘Bite Me’ painted on the tail. His long-time partner Clay, who takes care of the photography and serves as the glue of the group. Amy, or ‘Snowy Biscuit’. The young research assistant, with just the right amount of attitude and sarcasm. And lastly Kona. Our enthusiastic, New Jersey born, Rastafarian wannabe, new-hire to the gang. A fantastic group of characters that will keep you hooked through the fantastically ridiculous plot.
The book itself is broken into three parts: The Song, Jonah’s People, & The Source. The first, we follow Nate, trying to prove his sanity, or insanity, to himself following up the on whale tail incident. The second, takes such a dramatic and unsuspected turn, I feel it best left unrevealed. All the way to final segment, where events result in an Apocalypse Now style climax. I want to say more, but not at the risk of ruining the fantastic surprises this novel offers.
At times the book reminded me of Wes Anderson’s film The Life Aquatic. Mostly due to the oddball group set out on the seas, rather than the tone, which is much more fun-loving, than what we see with the more flawed characters in Anderson’s film. If you like either of these, try the other.
This book is a must read if you’re a fan of comedy. But if you’re still not convinced, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite chapter titles.
- Big and Wet. Next Question
- The Inner Secrets of Cetacean Sluts
- Heinous Fuckery Most Foul