Magazine article Geographical


Magazine article Geographical


Article excerpt


by Richard Seward

Newton, Blue Mark Books, hb, 18 [pounds sterling]


It is the 1960s and David is about to embark upon his doctoral studies. A research trip to the Hebrides ensues, but David becomes distracted by a whale who regularly visits the local waters. Over the next few years, David devises a way to communicate with the whale--named Tisala--and he sets about teaching Tisala about science, music, religion, history, politics, and much else.

The remainder of the novel is a chronicle of the conversations with Tisala and, goodness, this is a whale with strident opinions. I have no objection to preposterous fictional scenarios. They can work very well in works of satire, and I could never be friends with anyone who didn't regard Gulliver's Travels as one of the glories of English literature. The problem with this fantastical excursion is that it lacks subtlety. The whale holds forth on any number of issues: education, population growth, warfare, music, you name it and the point is that the whale is supposed to provide fresh perspectives and insights. …

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