Paul Quarrington's humorous, frenetic novel Whale Music
follows the life of a musician, Des Howell, loosely based on reclusive Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson. Long retired from the Howl Brothers, the superstar rock duo he formed with his late brother, Danny, in the 1960s, Des lives in a secluded seaside mansion in southern California. Almost immovably fat and overly fond of jelly-filled doughnuts (a little like Ignatius O'Reilly, the eccentric at the heart of A Confederacy of Dunces
), Des has removed himself from the world at large and can afford to spend his time working on a long, non-commercial magnum opus called Whale Music.
Des is a victim of the '60s: due to massive overdoses of drugs and alcohol, he has lost much of his short-term memory and functions (or doesn't function) much of the time in a semi-hallucinatory state. He makes his music, has strange visitors from the past and present, and is eventually drawn out of his seclusion to pursue his new girlfriend, Claire, to a strange planet called Toronto. Quarrington delivers a fast-paced, zany read, well grounded in the details of the '60s music scene (Quarrington himself spent most of the '70s as a rock bassist in bands such as Joe Hall and the Continental Drift). After winning the Governor General's Award for fiction in 1990, the novel inspired first a mythical soundtrack album to the book, Whale Music, by the Rheostatics, and then a feature film, Whale Music. --Mark Frutkin
From Publishers Weekly
This nimble portrait of a rock 'n' roll legend turned Beverly Hills eccentric will amuse anyone who's followed the misfortunes of real-life ex-superstars. Ludicrously obese, plagued by tinnitus and suffering from apparent short-term memory loss, Desmond Howell (of the famed '60s Howl Brothers) is unlikely to make a comeback anytime soon. In semi-permanent mourning over the death of his brother Danny, he contents himself with puttering around his mansion, locking the doors (except when he forgets) against pushy psychologists, fans, ex-bandmates and relatives. Stephen Leacock award-winning humorist Quarrington's ( King Leary ) prose is fleet throughout, tracing the Howl Brothers from their origins as a Southern California teenage garage band through their glory days (where Elvis, the Beatles and Bill Haley make cameo appearances) to Desmond's current state of proud dissipation. The result is a tasty brew of rumors and modern myths from the rock era, with a flavor all its own.
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