Whalefall: A Novel
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Unexpectedly emotional and wildly entertaining, Whalefall is the tense revamp of Jonah’s tale you didn’t know you needed." I did appreciate the scientific research regarding marine biology and scuba diving. However, the first third of the book was a bit tough (slow) to get through. I learned more than I will ever want to know about scuba diving/equipment. Once he is swallowed by the whale is when things really start to get intense and interesting!! Jay is confident that he can find bones before he reaches the edge of the underwater canyon. His father taught him everything about oceanography and deep-sea diving, and Jay’s need to find something permanent of him, even if only a tooth, makes him take the dangerous gamble. As he’s mesmerized by a rare type of bioluminescent squid, something bumps into him. That something happens to be a sperm whale.
Whalefall, A Novel by Daniel Kraus | 9781665918169 | Booktopia Whalefall, A Novel by Daniel Kraus | 9781665918169 | Booktopia
While this can work as a Biblical allegory, it’s also much more than that. This is a wholly unique reading experience. Readers are given the opportunity to delve into Jay’s memories of his father and the occasions that led to their tense relationship thanks to the narrative’s flawless past-to-present transition. Mitt Gardiner was a larger-than-life figure who was simultaneously alluring and intimidating. Jay’s memories of his father reveal both his affection and his father’s power. Readers can observe Jay’s development as he moves through these recollections, from a young child affected by his father to a young man looking for his own identity and knowledge.
So, I'm gonna say right up front here, before I do a (pardon the pun) deep dive, that I've read only one other Kraus novel—which was also highly recommended by someone who's opinion I trust—and that book was Rotters. And I remember not really enjoying that novel, and now I think I know why.
Whalefall by Daniel Kraus | Goodreads
Astoundingly great. Whalefall is, quite simply, a beautiful novel - a must-read story of the sea, the nature of awe, and the briny relationships between fathers and sons." - Gillian Flynn io9: There’s something very alien about a lot of deep sea creatures; how did you approach writing details to work in a way that seems both plausible and otherworldly in their strangeness? I read the gorgeous hard cover while riding the train to work and the e-book while walking (living dangerously!).
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In that context I also considered a comparison with Jeff Lemire’s 2012 graphic novel Underwater Welder. Both works involve a father and son difficulty while also being framed around a diving occupation.