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Whale Music

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Des Howell is a former rock ‘n’ roll star who never leaves his secluded oceanfront mansion. Naked, rich and fabulously deranged, he subsists on a steady diet of whiskey, pharmaceuticals and jelly doughnuts and occasionally works on his masterpiece, “Whale Music.” One day, upon awakening from his usual drunken stupor, Des discovers on his sofa a young alien from the faraway Des Howell is a former rock ‘n’ roll star who never leaves his secluded oceanfront mansion. Naked, rich and fabulously deranged, he subsists on a steady diet of whiskey, pharmaceuticals and jelly doughnuts and occasionally works on his masterpiece, “Whale Music.” One day, upon awakening from his usual drunken stupor, Des discovers on his sofa a young alien from the faraway universe of Toronto. This girl has made the trek to Des’s hideaway because she believes in the “Whale Music” and she’s crazy enough to think that Des can make a comeback hit with his mad magnum opus.


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Des Howell is a former rock ‘n’ roll star who never leaves his secluded oceanfront mansion. Naked, rich and fabulously deranged, he subsists on a steady diet of whiskey, pharmaceuticals and jelly doughnuts and occasionally works on his masterpiece, “Whale Music.” One day, upon awakening from his usual drunken stupor, Des discovers on his sofa a young alien from the faraway Des Howell is a former rock ‘n’ roll star who never leaves his secluded oceanfront mansion. Naked, rich and fabulously deranged, he subsists on a steady diet of whiskey, pharmaceuticals and jelly doughnuts and occasionally works on his masterpiece, “Whale Music.” One day, upon awakening from his usual drunken stupor, Des discovers on his sofa a young alien from the faraway universe of Toronto. This girl has made the trek to Des’s hideaway because she believes in the “Whale Music” and she’s crazy enough to think that Des can make a comeback hit with his mad magnum opus.

30 review for Whale Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heather(Gibby)

    I am not sure what it was exactly, but I loved this quirky little book

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    (3.5 stars, rounding up to 4 due to my love of the Rheostatics, who were heavily influenced by this book) Too clever by half, way too proud of its own inventiveness, but a good-hearted little fictionalization of the Brian Wilson story. I read it due to its connection with the Canadian band Rheostatics, who named their third album "Whale Music," and later created the music for the movie based on the book. The book was beneficial in that it made me want to re-listen to the Beach Boys, and also to r (3.5 stars, rounding up to 4 due to my love of the Rheostatics, who were heavily influenced by this book) Too clever by half, way too proud of its own inventiveness, but a good-hearted little fictionalization of the Brian Wilson story. I read it due to its connection with the Canadian band Rheostatics, who named their third album "Whale Music," and later created the music for the movie based on the book. The book was beneficial in that it made me want to re-listen to the Beach Boys, and also to read about the troubles of Brian Wilson. Creating a nubile 16-year-old who hangs around naked, has a perfect ass, was abused as a child, and is a groupie, yet is this perfect muse for Dez Howl and is also a well-rounded character would seem to be a hard trick to pull off, and Quarrington doesn't pull it off. (Beware the fiction writers who lead descriptions of every female character with the size and shape of their breasts; Philip K. Dick, I'm looking at you here...) Still, seeing the narrative roots of what the Rheostatics were trying to emulate when writing "Torque Torque," "Claire," "Song of Flight," and others made it a fun tie-in to a band whose music I've admired for years. For the Rheos angle, probably worth a read. If you like Brian Wilson et al., you might dig this literary diversion. If you're looking for deep insights or fully-fleshed characters, this might not be it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark Young

    You might say that winning the Governor General's Award is enough to recommend "Whale Music," but when books win awards like this it makes people think of them as dry and somehow... literary. This book is "literary," but it is also compellingly readable, delightfully entertaining, the kind of book you spill coffee on in the morning because you can't wait to get back to it. It has a sense of humour as well as a sense of a deeper meaning--as in other Quarrington novels, each one requires the other You might say that winning the Governor General's Award is enough to recommend "Whale Music," but when books win awards like this it makes people think of them as dry and somehow... literary. This book is "literary," but it is also compellingly readable, delightfully entertaining, the kind of book you spill coffee on in the morning because you can't wait to get back to it. It has a sense of humour as well as a sense of a deeper meaning--as in other Quarrington novels, each one requires the other. The story takes place in the California mansion of the "Whale Man:" Des Howell, former member of the "Howell Brothers," one half of which team has recently died. Des is having a hard time adjusting to his brother's death. He is also in a continuously drunk, drugged and mentally unstable condition, which is made more precarious by the persistent invasion of undersirables such as his mother, reporters, record executives--people squeezing out more money and forcing the obese, hermitic Whale Man to blockade his house to avoid institutionalization. The one thing which keeps Des focused is in composing the dreamlike Whale Music which he will use to summon the whales. One day he wakes up to find a guest: Claire, "the naked alien from the far-off planet of Toronto." She has come to him for personal reasons and also because she believes in him, without recompense. Quarrington borrows the events from the real life of a former member of the Beach Boys who became a recluse and drug addict in similar circumsances, but reality and fiction are woven together so expertly, like music weaving its way into silence, that it just becomes part of the joke, a device which he employs. To the Whale Man, music is an ethereal being with a spirit all its own... "The music ends, that is to say, it disappears forever to journey in the cosmos." The book is written in the present tense and frequently addresses the reader, inviting you in to make you feel like part of the story. This time, however, he has discarded the sporting subject matter of his two previous novels, "King Leary" and "Home Game," for that of music, clearly another area of expertise. Desmond Howell's self-declared philosophy is a twisted kind of existentialism: "The most one can do is try to produce some pitiful piece of prettiness, a song, and send it out into the world, a cripple dressed in rags." If this is Paul Quarrington's philosophy as well, then this is his fifth such song, a wonderful one, and I look forward to reading them all.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Some parts were funny, some parts were weird and some parts were boring. While you can't help but like the main character, most of the others were too cartoonish. Just an okay book for me. Some parts were funny, some parts were weird and some parts were boring. While you can't help but like the main character, most of the others were too cartoonish. Just an okay book for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    🐴 🍖

    owe a full review. des an indelible char of the ignatius reilly / fan man mold; beatles / elvis / jerry lee lewis cameos outstanding. ending perhaps a lil overly chipper but considering we're talking 60s sunshine pop here i suppose it makes sense that it ends on a major chord owe a full review. des an indelible char of the ignatius reilly / fan man mold; beatles / elvis / jerry lee lewis cameos outstanding. ending perhaps a lil overly chipper but considering we're talking 60s sunshine pop here i suppose it makes sense that it ends on a major chord

  6. 4 out of 5

    Micha

    My four-star rating might be generous, especially since I've been pretty critical with other books I've read this year. There were certainly a few things I didn't like--under-age groupies and the tired idea that descriptions of nude male corpulence make for automatic humour-meets-honesty--but at the same time this book really read well. It was hard to put down, even when I told myself I would stop the next whale-heading chapter-segment. I got here by way of the Rheostatics, as I think many reader My four-star rating might be generous, especially since I've been pretty critical with other books I've read this year. There were certainly a few things I didn't like--under-age groupies and the tired idea that descriptions of nude male corpulence make for automatic humour-meets-honesty--but at the same time this book really read well. It was hard to put down, even when I told myself I would stop the next whale-heading chapter-segment. I got here by way of the Rheostatics, as I think many readers did. I didn't listen to them much in high school and it's only been the past year that I've been paying them more attention, yet somehow a lot of their music really takes me back to my teenage headspace and I can't say why. This book brought me there too, what with the elements of depression, psychosis, and self-medication that were a frequent part of conversations. And the way that these people are drawn to one another, Claire drawn to Desmond because, I think, they can share this knowledge of not being 'normal,' of not being okay. The co-morbidity of depression and substance abuse in Desmond struck me, especially in how you can tell those around him want to simplify it into one or the other when really you can't. I would've loved this book as a teenager too, especially with my more significant appreciation of classic rock bands and culture. It's the fact that I find that culture toxic now that made me uncomfortable, but that makes this book relevant to the current zeitgeist of pulling apart previously well-protected celebrities guilty of abuse in the past because it very much taps into that scene.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I'm sure it was really good - especially if you love music from the 60s.... but, it just wasn't the best book for me. I struggled to finish it and didn't really love the characters. Although, props for the ending - much better than I expected and I'm glad I finished it. I'm sure it was really good - especially if you love music from the 60s.... but, it just wasn't the best book for me. I struggled to finish it and didn't really love the characters. Although, props for the ending - much better than I expected and I'm glad I finished it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Arlie

    Loved it. Thought it was funny, poignant, sad, original. I'd loaded this on to my kindle a while ago (over a year ago), and I had no idea what it was about. The narrator has a believable and entertaining voice - he's a bit nuts for sure; a musical genius who does a little too much destructive self-medication. Beneath his genius, his eccentricities, and his cynicism is pain. I loved how the author was able to layer all of that so effectively. Didn't realise this was halfway about (or at least ins Loved it. Thought it was funny, poignant, sad, original. I'd loaded this on to my kindle a while ago (over a year ago), and I had no idea what it was about. The narrator has a believable and entertaining voice - he's a bit nuts for sure; a musical genius who does a little too much destructive self-medication. Beneath his genius, his eccentricities, and his cynicism is pain. I loved how the author was able to layer all of that so effectively. Didn't realise this was halfway about (or at least inspired by) Brian Wilson until I went on goodreads. It's possible I would have enjoyed the book less if I'd known that going in. Instead, I read it as a completely fictional character put into the music scene of the 60's (I did look up a little fact about the Beatles at one point). I'd also never heard about the band who wrote music based on this book (which has apparently been made into a movie). This has led to great reflection on the nature of reading in the digital age. I was looking forward to reading others' reviews because I enjoyed my reading of this book so much, but there were a lot of complaints. I thought, why am I reading reviews of people I don't know? (But do I really only want to read people who agree with me?) I guess some of the opinions were surprising. It was fun! It was insightful! (Was there reference to teenage groupies that I missed? Are we sure Claire was a teen?) How does such easy access to opinions (and information re the book) affect my own reading experience? In what ways is social networking about reading positive? Does it detract from the personal experience?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zen

    Paul Quarrington is a funny, quirky writer. Whale Music, as did King Leary, reminds me of Dickens Christmas Carol. The protagonist must deal with the ghosts of the past, present & future. Des Howl (ne Desmond Howell) has a lot of ghosts. People, drugs, alcohol, he has them all. But he has also retained his musical genius. How Des finds a way to carry on with his life is the focus of this story. I liked a lot of Whale Music but some parts made me uncomfortable. The scenes in Des’ studio while he wa Paul Quarrington is a funny, quirky writer. Whale Music, as did King Leary, reminds me of Dickens Christmas Carol. The protagonist must deal with the ghosts of the past, present & future. Des Howl (ne Desmond Howell) has a lot of ghosts. People, drugs, alcohol, he has them all. But he has also retained his musical genius. How Des finds a way to carry on with his life is the focus of this story. I liked a lot of Whale Music but some parts made me uncomfortable. The scenes in Des’ studio while he was writing Whale Music were great. His description of his parents was laugh out loud funny in parts. I understand that the relationship between Claire & Des was central to his “redemption” (as it as), but I found their age difference disturbing & the relationship itself underdeveloped. I’m sure the rock & roll lifestyle hasn’t changed that much in almost 30 years so overall I appreciated this look into a completely different world.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jacky Torrisi

    It wasn’t my favorite book but I enjoyed it. The story line was lacking for me but I liked the writing style. The first half of the book jumbled my brain, it was very hard to understand what was going on, but amusing nonetheless. The best way I can describe this book is — not much really happens but eventually things are revealed. The references to other 60s bands (such as the Beatles) felt somewhat forced, considering the other characters were all fictional. Also, I wish there were more signifi It wasn’t my favorite book but I enjoyed it. The story line was lacking for me but I liked the writing style. The first half of the book jumbled my brain, it was very hard to understand what was going on, but amusing nonetheless. The best way I can describe this book is — not much really happens but eventually things are revealed. The references to other 60s bands (such as the Beatles) felt somewhat forced, considering the other characters were all fictional. Also, I wish there were more significant parts of the story in the beginning — it felt like right when things were starting to happen, the book ended. But I did enjoy the insight into the life of a reclusive, harebrained musician. I wouldn’t read this book again but I would perhaps try reading another book from this author.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom Axworthy

    Paul Quarrington was a musician and novelist and these worlds come together in Whale Music which won a Governor Generals award for fiction in 1989.Loosely based on the life of Brian Wilson( eccentric genius recluse, controlling father, wild brother) the novel is by turns witty and tragic as it describes the drug addled world of Rock n Roll.Claire , a runaway from Toronto, is the only one who seems to really care for Desmond Howl, everyone else tries to exploit him.A man of many talents, Quarring Paul Quarrington was a musician and novelist and these worlds come together in Whale Music which won a Governor Generals award for fiction in 1989.Loosely based on the life of Brian Wilson( eccentric genius recluse, controlling father, wild brother) the novel is by turns witty and tragic as it describes the drug addled world of Rock n Roll.Claire , a runaway from Toronto, is the only one who seems to really care for Desmond Howl, everyone else tries to exploit him.A man of many talents, Quarrington puts all of them on display in Whale Music.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Webster

    The author’s humour fell for me somewhere between James Robert Baker’s ‘Boy Wonder’ and Christopher Moore’s ‘Lamb’, which pleased me very much. While at times the story could be a bit tedious (think Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) it had enough entertaining moments that I really wanted to see how everyone turned out at the end. And especially near the end the reader feels as mentally unstable as the narrator, such are the descriptions of his thoughts along the way. A fun book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Avgvst

    Good afternoon! So, this sounds very interesting, I would like to try to download this book because I am going on vacation soon and I would like to read something there. I will be in the mountains and there will be no connection. That's why I've already downloaded a lot of tracks on the Tubidy website so I won't be bored on the road and on vacation. Without internet it would be very difficult for me. Good afternoon! So, this sounds very interesting, I would like to try to download this book because I am going on vacation soon and I would like to read something there. I will be in the mountains and there will be no connection. That's why I've already downloaded a lot of tracks on the Tubidy website so I won't be bored on the road and on vacation. Without internet it would be very difficult for me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I am not sure what to make of this book. It is a quirky, strange sort of read with a quirky, strange sort of protagonist and cast of supporting characters. But still, I found it very compelling and engaging to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aouellette

    fabulously funny (and sad)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Matucha

    Great Rock and Roll book. If you're interested in music and musician types, a definite must read. The trials and tribulations of an old rock star who's semi-washed up. Great Rock and Roll book. If you're interested in music and musician types, a definite must read. The trials and tribulations of an old rock star who's semi-washed up.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kevin G

    This book (& movie) turned me into a Paul Quarrington fan. I got into this because The Rheostatics did two albums called "Whale Music". This book (& movie) turned me into a Paul Quarrington fan. I got into this because The Rheostatics did two albums called "Whale Music".

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gavin Esdale

    A fun and touching little rock n' roll romp of a book. A bit strange, much like everything and everyone in it, but like its protagonist's own musical magnum opus, its certainly unique! A fun and touching little rock n' roll romp of a book. A bit strange, much like everything and everyone in it, but like its protagonist's own musical magnum opus, its certainly unique!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    This is a fantastic book and a great study in style and pacing for young writers. It starts fast, really gets rolling, and then just explodes all over the page.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ryder McGinnis

    Weird, sad, sweet, and musical. So weird I almost didn't make it past the first few pages, but so sweet that I couldn't put it down. Weird, sad, sweet, and musical. So weird I almost didn't make it past the first few pages, but so sweet that I couldn't put it down.

  21. 4 out of 5

    adelaide q

    Hmmmmm. I did like this book but I also didn’t. I thought the story itself was interesting and fun but it was also kind of too weird. It was also written a bit confusingly.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sheldon Birnie

    Damn that’s good!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lencorp

    A very psychedelic book, strange but top-notch.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    (view spoiler)[ After all is said and done, after Desmond has found Claire, begun life anew, forgiven his brother (dead), he is sad that the Whale Music does not produce any whales. It is played and nothing happens. Or does it? Here is the ENDING. "There is a moment of tranquility, and then the the whales rise all around us. Scores of them, their gleaming backs black as the bottom of the deepest hole, the bellies, preternaturally white and lined with heavy scars. They churn the water, the ocean boi (view spoiler)[ After all is said and done, after Desmond has found Claire, begun life anew, forgiven his brother (dead), he is sad that the Whale Music does not produce any whales. It is played and nothing happens. Or does it? Here is the ENDING. "There is a moment of tranquility, and then the the whales rise all around us. Scores of them, their gleaming backs black as the bottom of the deepest hole, the bellies, preternaturally white and lined with heavy scars. They churn the water, the ocean boils with life. 'Yowzers,' mutters Claire. I am a fat man perched on a rock, the soul God gave me is not much good for anything. Still, I raise my arms towards the sunlight, hold them there for a long moment. Claire leaps up and down, she cries and laughs, she makes whooping sounds, embraces me, shakes her fists gleefully in the air. I lower my arms with all the grace and dignity I can muster. The whales begin to sing." (hide spoiler)] I think I remember seeing the movie, so in part, that's why it feels familiar, but it also feels uncomfortable and I don't like many parts of it. I like Paul Quarrington and I might have preferred Fishing with the Old Guy (only because that's the book he talked about when I saw him at Eden Mills Writers Festival). I have also read several brilliant music fiction books (for example, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan) and that colours my analysis. But it's on the list, so I have to continue. And it is good. It has many moments. Here is a great paragraph about extraordinary music. Describing music in a novel can be difficult. Quarrington does this one very well. "This was the first player who I had ever heard go outside. Do you know what I'm talking about? A solo is a like a little door in the song, and most instrumentalists step over the stoop, see what the weather's like and duck back in. This young fellow, he ran out that door, sprinted around the block, he took the cross-town bus and hired a cab back. Granted, I was so zombied at the time perhaps Lawrence Welk would have sounded as good, but it was a critical experience for me." This is indeed the truth. Magic is elusive, presence and meaning are elusive (aren't they manifestations of magic, after all?). "Yes sir, I don't believe the Howl Brothers ever functioned as well again as we did that day. It was magic, it was a time we'd spend years trying to rediscover. Magic is a hard thing to hold on to." There is a meteor shower while Desmond is visiting Fay and her family when they are both young. This is beautiful, and a view of humans and our place in the galaxy. "I stood there flat-footed and slack-jawed, my head canted awkwardly. Professor Ginzburg elbowed me in the side. 'Know what slays me?' he asked. 'Some people see something like this, a celestial phenomenon, they say, it makes me feel so small. Putzes. It makes me feel so big. Like God did this just for me. So I watch, I give it a little, hmmmm...' Professor G. reached out his hand and waggled it judgementally. 'Not too shabby.'" Thus it BEGINS. "There is a toe sticking out from underneath a green blanket on my living-room sofa. A lovely toe, a pale and dainty toe. A toe that has never tested dirty bathwater. I am fond of pretty toes like this, because my own are so ugly. My big toes are huge and flat like ping-pong paddles. The rest are deformed midget toes, little squirmy toes. The nails are hard and horny and for some reason have turned bright yellow. Apparently I've received a visitor. This strikes me as highly unlikely. Oh, certainly, people come to see me from time to time—executives from Galaxy Records, reporters from magazines, my mother on a weekly raid-an-pillage—but this is some form of house guest, because the owner of this toe has decided to spend the night! I don't know how I feel about this. Into the backyard then, for a refreshing dip in the pool. Let me see how large a splash I can make. Immense, a monster. This is not just my weight—that helps, but size alone does not ensure a fine splash—it is a matter of maximizing contact, making sure every available square inch of naked pale flesh slaps the water simultaneously. Danny was great at this, which proves that size is nothing, because Danny never achieved my proporations, although towards the end my brother was quite corpulent and bloated."

  25. 4 out of 5

    rabbitprincess

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A highly entertaining novel that will surely delight music lovers, particularly those who like classic rock. The protagonist is Desmond Howell, who was the heart of a successful 60's-era band with his chronologically younger but in deeds much older brother, Danny. At the time the story begins, Danny is dead and Desmond is a recluse, living off "whiskey, pharmaceuticals and jelly doughnuts", as the back cover states, and composing Whale Music -- songs for the whales that swim by his house. The st A highly entertaining novel that will surely delight music lovers, particularly those who like classic rock. The protagonist is Desmond Howell, who was the heart of a successful 60's-era band with his chronologically younger but in deeds much older brother, Danny. At the time the story begins, Danny is dead and Desmond is a recluse, living off "whiskey, pharmaceuticals and jelly doughnuts", as the back cover states, and composing Whale Music -- songs for the whales that swim by his house. The story begins with Desmond discovering a young woman sleeping on his couch, an event where his life starts to change. Desmond's first-person narration is engaging, funny and rings true, right down to the short-term memory loss that he suffers as the result of frying his brain with booze and drugs. He is discursive but also very economical in places: he paints a very clear picture of his attitude toward his parents by the simple choice of modifier, saying "my" mother, but "the" father. The other characters are also very vividly drawn, although their portrayals may be slightly biased by the narration. Beach Boys fans may be intrigued by the parallels between Des and Brian Wilson. Indeed, the band itself makes it in some form onto the page: the fact that there are brothers at the heart of this five-piece ensemble from California that sings about girls and cars in the 1960s and has a rivalry with the Beatles (a scene that I must admit made me uncomfortable because I wasn't sure whether to be amused or not). Even some of the family life is similar, what with Des/Brian's brother dying (in the water; it's a bit of a stretch though) and their father being a modestly successful songwriter who was not a fan of his sons' sound but still tried to be their manager and take control. Even the part where they go to India reminded me of when the Beatles and the Beach Boys went to India to study with the Maharishi. With all of this going on, readers are bound to be entertained. But be warned, it's pretty raunchy too, in that there are a lot of naked ladies and sexual exploits. Still, this is a novel about drugs and rock 'n' roll, so really, you shouldn't be surprised that there's sex to complete the triad. Recommended for: music fans and survivors of the 60s. Next steps: the film Whale Music, for which Quarrington wrote the screenplay; Canadian band The Rheostatics, in particular the albums Whale Music (inspired by the book) and Music from the Motion Picture Whale Music, which is the soundtrack to the aforementioned film. This book came to my attention under the sad circumstances of Paul Quarrington's death in January 2010, and was also ranked #2 in the CBC Book Club's Top 10 Books About Music in April 2010.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

    To me this is a good example how if you're going to write a roman a clef, you really need a fictional angle that will transcend the source material. Otherwise there's just no reason to tell this story in a non-nonfictional format. The story in particular is the well-known one of Brian Wilson, which has become fodder since WHALE MUSIC for plenty of rock'n'roll books, not to mention movies like GRACE OF MY HEART and the current WALK HARD. It's a story that's been told so often that, frankly, it do To me this is a good example how if you're going to write a roman a clef, you really need a fictional angle that will transcend the source material. Otherwise there's just no reason to tell this story in a non-nonfictional format. The story in particular is the well-known one of Brian Wilson, which has become fodder since WHALE MUSIC for plenty of rock'n'roll books, not to mention movies like GRACE OF MY HEART and the current WALK HARD. It's a story that's been told so often that, frankly, it doesn't need retelling. The basic premise behind WHALE MUSIC is of a burnt-out genius struggling with the madness of his incomplete masterpiece---i.e. SMILE. It's a harmless read, but harmless is also a synonym for pointless. In the end, the real story is much more complicated and interesting---especially inasmuch as, 14 years after this book was originally published---SMILE itself was completed, and Dear Mr. Wilson was exorcised of at least one demon.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Adams

    Admittedly I saw the movie adaption first. While it was actually not bad for a little indie flick, with a brave performance by Maury Chaykin, I thought the book was simply charming. If you are a fan of 60's rock history, this serves as a nice window into a small part of that world. Loosely based on Brian Wilson (the mastermind behind The Beach Boys), we get an intimate, fictional version of his reclusive years, depicting how the intensity of fame can fracture a sensitive soul. Even so, we discov Admittedly I saw the movie adaption first. While it was actually not bad for a little indie flick, with a brave performance by Maury Chaykin, I thought the book was simply charming. If you are a fan of 60's rock history, this serves as a nice window into a small part of that world. Loosely based on Brian Wilson (the mastermind behind The Beach Boys), we get an intimate, fictional version of his reclusive years, depicting how the intensity of fame can fracture a sensitive soul. Even so, we discover the well of musical inspiration can't be defeated, merely transmuted into stranger, more eccentric forms.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    Desmond Howel, part of the (fictional) top selling Howl Brothers is now a drugged out, drunken, and fat man of questionable sanity. Working on what he believes is his greatest work, Whale Music, he slowly starts awakening to what's around him, and what it actually was that brought him to this point. It took me a bit to get into the book, since it's rambling style starts off right away. I'm glad I stuck with it though. I ended up being entertained a lot, which is all you can ask for in a book. Desmond Howel, part of the (fictional) top selling Howl Brothers is now a drugged out, drunken, and fat man of questionable sanity. Working on what he believes is his greatest work, Whale Music, he slowly starts awakening to what's around him, and what it actually was that brought him to this point. It took me a bit to get into the book, since it's rambling style starts off right away. I'm glad I stuck with it though. I ended up being entertained a lot, which is all you can ask for in a book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason Coffman

    It takes a while to get into the rhythm of this book, filled as it is with constant repetition and using a first-person voice more sad than funny. By the end, though, the narrator (an amalgamation of Brian Wilson and any number of other drug-addled rock musicians) has become familiar and friendly, and the strange world he lives in has become familiar enough that it's tough not to care about what happens to him. Sometimes very funny and surprisingly touching, if you can get through the initial we It takes a while to get into the rhythm of this book, filled as it is with constant repetition and using a first-person voice more sad than funny. By the end, though, the narrator (an amalgamation of Brian Wilson and any number of other drug-addled rock musicians) has become familiar and friendly, and the strange world he lives in has become familiar enough that it's tough not to care about what happens to him. Sometimes very funny and surprisingly touching, if you can get through the initial weirdness and accustom yourself to Quarrington's strange tone.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Wow did I love this book. Knew nothing about it when I picked it up and am I glad I did. A fictitious "Brian Wilson" like reclusive rock legend is working on his great opus an homage to whale's songs. However his quiet is interrupted by a variety of musical and non musical characters. This book made me laugh and for anyone who loves the intricacies music, it is a must read. Mixed in is real insight into mental illness. Great read. Wow did I love this book. Knew nothing about it when I picked it up and am I glad I did. A fictitious "Brian Wilson" like reclusive rock legend is working on his great opus an homage to whale's songs. However his quiet is interrupted by a variety of musical and non musical characters. This book made me laugh and for anyone who loves the intricacies music, it is a must read. Mixed in is real insight into mental illness. Great read.

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