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Inukshuk Paperback – June 19, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Library Journal Best Indie Novel of the Year

“An elaborate tale of family and the paths people take to understanding.” —Seattle Times

“[This] mix of well-researched history and contemporary fiction makes for a fine, sad read.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Hauntingly honest and emotionally resonant.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Intimate and meditative . . . A thoughtful and sympathetic look at the sometimes troubled relationship between fathers and sons.” —Booklist

“A mesmerizing story of a father and a son.” —Largehearted Boy

“Thomas, bullied at school, confused by love (with a delightfully original girl), pining for his mother, and distrustful of his father, takes control of the only thing he can—his physical survival. . . . A frozen lullaby . . . written for teens left behind.” —Bookslut

Inukshuk better communicates darkness and distress than any S.O.S. signal. . . . We can’t help but oscillate between feeling empathy and agony for this family as we are absorbed by Spatz’s cold, gripping tale.” —ZYZZYVA

“This enthralling, tense book should lure not only fans of extreme weather novels but also those who admire a good, traditional structure and a satisfying and meaningful resolution.” —NewPages

“Entertaining and much recommended.” —Midwest Book Review

Inukshuk is a feat of empathy and honesty, a taut tale of fear and resentment and other threats from within, meticulously observed and fearlessly rendered in vivid, authoritative, gripping prose. It’s a virtuoso performance.” —DOUG DORST, author of Alive in Necropolis and The Surf Guru

“Gregory Spatz’s prose is as clean and sparkling as a new fall of snow.” —JANET FITCH, author of White Oleander and Paint it Black

“At its heart Inukshuk is about family. But Spatz has transfigured this beautifully told, wise story with history and myth, poetry and magic into something rarer, stranger and altogether amazing. A book that points unerringly true north.” —KAREN JOY FOWLER, author of The Jane Austen Book Club and Wit’s End

“One of the most innovative and unusual fictional incarnations I’ve ever read of the persistent allure of Sir John Franklin’s final, fatal Arctic voyage. It’s a remarkable accomplishment.” —RUSSELL POTTER, author of Arctic Spectacles

About the Author

Gregory Spatz is the author of the novels Inukshuk, Fiddler’s Dream, and No One But Us, and the short fiction collections Wonderful Tricks and Half as Happy. He has also written for the Oxford American and Poets and Writers and his stories have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker. He is the recipient of a Washington State Book Award, Spokane Arts Commission Individual Artist of the Year Award, and National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he teaches in the MFA program at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. When he’s not writing or teaching, Spatz plays fiddle and tours with Mighty Squirrel and the internationally acclaimed bluegrass band John Reischman and The Jaybirds.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press; 1St Edition edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934137421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934137420
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,217,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

GREGORY SPATZ is the author of the novels INUKSHUK, FIDDLER'S DREAM and NO ONE BUT US, and of the story collections HALF AS HAPPY, and WONDERFUL TRICKS. His stories have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Glimmer Train Stories, Shenandoah, Epoch, Kenyon Review and New England Review. The recipient of a Michener Fellowship, an Iowa Arts Fellowship, a Washington State Book Award, and an NEA Fellowship in literature, he teaches at Eastern Washington University in Spokane. Spatz plays the fiddle in the twice Juno-nominated bluegrass band John Reischman and the Jaybirds.

Visit his website at

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jean Brandt on June 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
In this compelling novel, author Gregory Spatz, does a fine job of running two parallel stories. One a current story with a teenage protagonist and his somewhat befuddled father and the second a tale based on a true historical event, the Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin.
Fifteen year-old Thomas Franklin is convinced that he is a distant relative of Sir John Franklin and desperately tries to recreate the horrific conditions of the miserable failure that was to be Sir John Franklin's last expedition.
Spatz skillfully takes us into the dysfuntional life of Thomas, his mother gone on Artic research of her own, a move to a remote northern town is Canada, his father distant, hurt and confused, and Thomas' inability to "fit" into the social structure of those around him.
The idea of running the two situations side by side makes for a great story. As a writer Spatz brings his characters to life. Reading this book was not only a history lesson, it recreates the misery of being a confused adolescent who has no where to turn.
The story is not all doom and gloom. Thomas matures, as we all do, eventually, but in the book "Inukshuk" (you will find out what the title means...promise !) Gregory Spatz by comparing the dire mission of John Franklin with Thomas' struggles, touches on what it means to be young and feel alone and "different".
Couple wonderful writing with a great story and one does not hesitate to recommend a book. Inukshuk qualifies on both accounts. Would make for a great discussion ! Read this and enjoy !
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By Y. Murrell on July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Gregory Spatz's 'Inukshuk' is the story of the despair of three men, John Franklin, his teenage son Thomas, and Edmund Hoar, doomed steward of an unrelated John Franklin in his fatal quest to discover the Northwest Passage. When the novel opens, mother and wife Jane has abandoned her family to follow her own quixotic quest to change the world by doing scientific observations in the far north leaving them lost without her, each looking for a clear way out of the void she has left them in,(an Inukshuk is the Inuit word for the stone way markers, or reference point in the North American arctic).

While the latter day John Franklin's story is really not interesting enough to capture and hold one's attention the book comes alive as it follows Thomas's retreat into his own mind as he tries to make a movie about the earlier Franklin's quest. He keeps greatly detailed notebooks full of drawings and story ideas, which become increasingly indistinguishable from reality as his own quest to understand more fully the sufferings of the Franklin crew leads to self induced scurvy and hallucinations.

Equally compelling is the story of Edmund Hoar descent from relative health and hope into scurvy, starvation, cannibalism and finally acceptance, resignation and sustenance for his remaining crew mates.

While the novel is bleak at times it ends on a hopeful note, recommended, but not for the faint of heart as the Hoar passages, in particular, are somewhat harrowing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark G. on February 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whenever you care about the emotional & physical well-being of characters, you know it's a good read--which is exactly what Inukshuk is.
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