Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings
William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780380978410, 336pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2003
After reverently lambasting the most cherished rites and credos of virtually every one of the world's major religions in his transcendently hilarious novel Lamb, the one and only Christopher Moore returns with a wild look at interspecies communication, adventure on the high seas, and an eons-old mystery.
Marine behavioral biologist Nate Quinn is in love -- with the salt air and sun-drenched waters off Maui ... and especially with the majestic ocean-dwelling behemoths that have been bleeping and hooting their haunting music for more than twenty million years. But just why do the humpback whales sing? That's the question that has Nate and his crew poking, charting, recording, and photographing any large marine mammal that crosses their path. Until the extraordinary day when a whale lifts its tail into the air to display a cryptic message spelled out in foot-high letters: Bite me.
No one on Nate's team has ever seen such a thing; not his longtime partner, photographer Clay Demodocus, not their saucy young research assistant, Amy. Not even spliff-puffing white-boy Rastaman, Kona (the former Preston Applebaum of New Jersey), could boast such a sighting in one of his dope-induced hallucinations. And when a roll of film returns from the lab missing the crucial tail shot -- and their research facility is summarily trashed -- Nate realizes that something very fishy indeed is going on.
This, apparently, is big, involving dangerously interested other parties -- competitive researchers, the cutthroat tourist industry, perhaps even the military. The weirdness only gets weirder when a call comes in from Nate's big-bucks benefactor saying that a whale has made contact -- by phone. And it's asking for a hot pastrami and Swiss on rye. Suddenly the answer to the question that has daunted and driven Nate throughout his adult life is within his reach. But it's waiting for him in the form of an amazing adventure beneath the waves, 623 feet down, somewhere off the coast of Chile. And it's not what anyone would think.
It must be said: Christopher Moore's Fluke is a whale of a novel.