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Whale Man Paperback – February 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


A generous, gorgeous novel, with the screwball soul of Preston Sturges, Whale Man is a tempest in a driveway--a wonderful, wonderful book. --Ashley Warlick, author of Seek the Living

The whale is a hefty symbol in American literature, and Alan Michael Parker's amazing new novel gives the behemoth fresh meaning. The writing is exquisite, the emotions fathoms deep, the plot riotously funny. --Jill Ciment, author of Heroic Measures

About the Author

Novelist and poet Alan Michael Parker is the author or editor of ten books, including the novels Cry Uncle and WHALE MAN. For fifteen years a book reviewer for The New Yorker, Parker has published poetry and prose in The Believer, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, Paris Review, Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Slate. He has received a Pushcart Prize, The Fineline Prize from The Mid-American Review and The Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, among other awards. He teaches at Davidson College and in the Queens University low-residency M.F.A. program.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: WordFarm (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602260079
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602260078
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,353,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Michael Parker is a novelist, poet, essayist, and raconteur. He has written and lectured widely -- including at the Sorbonne and on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin -- on subjects ranging from the history of beach house art to casinos that sell Matisse paintings. The author or editor of fifteen books, including THE COMMITTEE ON TOWN HAPPINESS and LONG DIVISION, he has received numerous awards: among which include three Pushcart Prizes, inclusion in BEST AMERICAN POETRY, the North Carolina Book Award, the Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize, the Fineline Award, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is the Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English at Davidson College, and he also teaches in the University of Tampa low-residency M.F.A. program.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By lekleinbard on April 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
This was the first work of fiction that I have read by Alan Michael Parker and I must say that I enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoy his poetry (which, if you didn't know already, is wonderful, I recommend Elephants & Butterflies for starters: Elephants & Butterflies (American Poets Continuum)). There is a litheness to Parker's prose--the poetry that narrates Avi's dreamscapes is used again to describe the late night escape of truckers and other "nighties," which might as well be a dream. In the flip of a scene, Parker's language loses its gentleness and becomes spry, energetic--suddenly we are caught up in the world of the twins, two of the most annoying characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Throughout Whale Man, Parker's characters delight: I felt Rick's hand on my shoulder, heard Dolly yapping at my feet, smelled Avi's meals wafting from my own kitchen. It's refreshing to read a novel with such a range of characters, each one different and handled in a different voice. While Avi may not be the best artist in the world, his whale, itself, comes to life a character. Oh! and WARNING: You may fall desperately in love with Bean.

Whale Man is full of intricate turns (no SPOILER here) and I found myself hanging on tightly as I rounded every corner of this suspenseful story. Beneath Whale Man's plot, its hilarious dialogue and its illustrations of a whale-crazy America, is a beautiful story of grief, the process of grieving, and the seemingly futile obsession one may pursue in order to deal with that grief, which is whale-big, as big as the catharsis waiting on the other side, and well worth the read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vida D. G. Leaf on April 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Alan Michael Parker's Whale Man is fine in several directions. First, the cast: a likeable main character plagued by an absent, miscreant mother, a crime mogul called the Camel and her two ditzy henchwomen, and a supporting crew who may or may not work for the CIA. The plot builds on a personal obsession that takes off with spectacular results. And here's what I really like: more quotable lines (Parker is also a well-known poet) than you can shake a stick at, though a better response would be to stop wasting time and just buy and enjoy the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carey Scott Wilkerson on July 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alan Michael Parker's Whale Man is, to my mind, the novel event of the season. Taking, as his point of departure, the problem (and delight) of obsession, Parker brilliantly charts that psychographically comic moment in which the currents of imagination flood the spaces of daily experience. Replete with knowing inflections from classic Noir, the Marx Brothers, conspiracy theory, Melville and vaudeville, Parker has written a kind of fantastical morality tale in which the world's natural absurdity becomes the lesson itself. Kevin Prufer rightly points, in his review, to Parker's extraordinary gifts as a poet, for they are evident on every page, both in his inventive narrative structure and his stylized narrative voice. Let me just say it: Whale Man is funny and fun! Parker's complete investment in the protagonist, Avi Heyer's, quixotic quest to build his dream is heroic indeed. This lovely book of big ideas will swallow you whole, and that is no fluke.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A&B on June 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
WHALE MAN is a breath of fresh air in contemporary fiction. This is a very funny book that also happens to be about mourning and loss. Alan Michael Parker does an exceptional job of weaving the two seamlessly, making his readers laugh out loud even while we're contemplating our own places of sadness.

Avi's story begins with an ALICE IN WONDERLAND-like awakening and though it eventually becomes firmly grounded in reality, the story continues to move in and out of moments of absurdity and dreams.

The writing is layered with metaphors, word play and gorgeous prose that should be read aloud. At the same time, the story is accessible and the characters extremely likable (especially the ones who aren't very likable). This is a great read that I suspect will offer many new discoveries upon rereading.
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