Gus Openshaw's Whale-Killing Journal

Keith Thomson, Author . MacAdam/Cage $23 (255p) ISBN 978-1-59692-172-6

As screenwriter Thompson's fiction debut opens, cat-food cannery worker Gus Openshaw has just set off in hot pursuit of the white whale who ate his wife, kid and arm—a beast he insists on calling "Dickhead," in one of the book's many broad winks in Melville's direction. Gus, in addition to sharpening his harpoon and gathering a crew, also somehow finds the time to keep updating his blog, whose entries constitute the book. That's no mean feat since, along with crew members who include semireformed pirate Nelson and cleaver-happy chef Duq, Gus must contend with attacks by pirates, shipwreck after shipwreck, imprisonment in a remote island jail and the violent opposition of a whale-protection organization named Bluepeace. Ludicrous scenarios loom behind every wave: as Gus and his crew prepare to do battle with the whale, a war with the Tortolan Navy forces a desperate search for munitions during which Gus falls in love with an arms dealer's intern who turns out to have a secret royal pedigree. Despite the author's pen-and-ink scrimshaws that end each chapter, the characters remain indistinct. They, and their adventures, are ill-served by the bloggy style, which sinks this strained farce long before Dickhead even nears harpooning range. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/06/2006
Release date: 03/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
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