I would read Christopher Moore based on the titles of his works alone. He has written fantastically odd and fun books for years, including ISLAND OF THE SEQUINED LOVE NUN, THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE, and LAMB: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO BIFF, CHRIST'S CHILDHOOD PAL (which, in my estimation, is his best, most bedazzlingly kooky book yet). Once I get past the title page of a Christopher Moore book, I'm never disappointed. He always delivers the goods (the goods being odd characters, odd settings, and odd happenings). The latest Moore delivery is FLUKE: OR I KNOW WHY THE WINGED WHALE SINGS, and he will not disappoint fans.
The odd characters include marine biologist Nathan Quinn, a lifelong researcher of the humpback whale and their song; Clay Demodocus, his associate; beautiful research assistant Amy Earhart; and Rastaman, Kona, a white boy from New Jersey. The settings, which are varied, include Maui, a giant whale ship and "Gootown." The odd happenings are too numerous to mention. There's some discussion of a whale calling a benefactor by telephone asking for a hot pastrami and Swiss on rye. There's an escape from an amorous Samoan. There's a situation involving a super-race of piscatorial mutants. And there's that one whale that had written on its tail "BITE ME."
Of course, the book is not too thick with such heavy topics as the meaning of life and love. There is, however, some discussion about Canadian hockey violence. Moore won't give you long theories about the nature of man or the political implications of the Middle East. He will, however, give us some interesting cetacean sex, which is always titillating. It's a breeze to read. The reader will sit in a hammock, a drink by their side (with an umbrella in it), and happily read along chuckling mightily (hopefully not spilling said umbrella-laden drink).
The one thing that Moore does well (on top of his writing antics) is the research he puts into his books. He knows about whales and cares about them (so much so, in fact, that at the end of the book he highlights ways in which the reader can help out with and address conservation issues). Just as in LAMB, where he studied mightily about the world in Jesus's time, Moore finds many interesting nuggets about whales, the ocean, and the like.
If you want Norman Mailer or Leon Uris, you've come to the wrong place. But if you're in the mood for a quick laugh (along the lines of Tom Robbins, Dave Barry and their ilk) and a fun book to read on a sunny weekend, FLUKE is the way to go. Both the book and Moore are funny --- and there's no fluke about that.
Reviewed by Jonathan Shipley on January 22, 2011
Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings