Book Jacket

 

rank 5917
word count 10933
date submitted 12.02.2009
date updated 23.04.2011
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Comedy
classification: moderate
incomplete

The Snow Whale

John Minichillo

A contemporary retelling of Moby-Dick. Forthcoming from Atticus Books July 30, 2011.

 

Forthcoming from Atticus Books late summer / early fall.

Mini-synopsis: mild-mannered white guy with office job gets DNA test,
learns he’s Inuit, joins whale hunt in Alaska under tribal rights,
battles white whale, returns home changed.

An earlier draft of the novel was named a semi-finalist in the Amazon
Breakthrough Novel Awards, and the Publisher’s Weekly reviewer, as
part of the contest, said, “...the author demonstrates a profound
knowledge of Inuit culture with conflicts between modern and
traditional woven deftly into the narrative.” Since then, the novel
has been through extensive revision with special attention to
character. It’s a book about race, global warming, and the quest for
genuine experience.

 
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tags

alaska, dna-test, fiction, humor, lawrence-welk, literary, moby-dick, point-hope, satire, suburbia, whale, whaling

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162 comments

 

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John Minichillo wrote 1287 days ago

I posted THE SNOW WHALE here two years ago. At the time I was active in this community.

THE SNOW WHALE has been accepted for publication and will be available from Atticus Books in late summer / early fall 2011.

Excerpt is still posted here.

Thanks to everyone who read.

A t t i c u s B o o k s O n l i n e . c o m

John Minichillo wrote 1830 days ago

THE SNOW WHALE was named a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The field has been narrowed to 100 books, and three finalists will be selected in the coming weeks. As part of the contest, all books were reviewed by Publisher's Weekly. Here's their review:

From Publishers Weekly
In this contemporary tweak of “Moby Dick,” John Jacobs is unhappy with his job, his marriage and his life. So after a DNA test reveals he is 37% Inuit, he heads to Alaska to spend time with his people. While the book’s opening scenes feel like a satire that doesn’t quite hit its target, once John reaches Alaska with a young assistant named “Q” who wants to escape the streets, and meets up with Akmaaq, the story suddenly becomes sharper, the characters deeper, and the author demonstrates a profound knowledge of Inuit culture with conflicts between modern and traditional woven deftly into the narrative. Akmaaq wants to go on a whale partly to die at sea. His target: the snow whale, an ancient white beast that has killed hunters before. John and Q’s first whale hunt is reminiscent of Jack London, with seemingly simple descriptions — “At times they stood a few feet above the surface of the water, which occasionally surged high enough to lap over the edges, and it left the ice clean” — contributing to an overall effect of harsh grandeur, terror and exuberance. Moments of poignancy and comedy dot the adventure story, revealing a wide swath of humanity and giving John, Q and Akmaaq the opportunity to demonstrate that even something that everyone else thinks is insane may be the one thing we need the most to save ourselves.

Robin Helweg-Larsen wrote 1838 days ago

Hi John, Snow Whale provokes rich and conflicting responses in me. It's realistic, on the fringe of unrealistic, but that fringe where people are close to totally losing their marbles, but using it to reframe themselves for the sake of their sanity. It's funny, but depressing, in the way it deals with the phenomenal ignorance our society has developed of the world around us, the misapprehensions, the stereotypes, the totally inaccurate firmly-held-truths. John's relationship with his wife is so strong, and in such a weak state. Genuine American literature, would make a great movie (but would they manage to maintain the tightrope act you've perfected?)

I'm very glad you're in the ABNA Quarterfinals. Good luck going forward. This is a very strong book. I'll post a version of my comments there too.

Robin

mammydiaries wrote 1843 days ago

Why is this not already published? I'm two chapters in and I want to forget about making supper, curl up on the couch and read this into the wee hours. The writing is smart and John and Jessica are such lovable characters, each of them flawed and extremely discontented with their lot in life, but in such a way that we can all relate to them. The storyline is brilliant and taps straight into the ridiculousness of the way we live our lives nowadays and the romantic urge to "escape" and return to "simpler times" (so long as we can still keep our internet connections of course!) I look forward to reading this when it is in print, and trust me, it will be. All the best,
Maria x

KJKron wrote 1274 days ago

Great news and a book worthy of publication - one of the best that I've read since on this site. I'll buy it when it comes out.

missyfleming_22 wrote 1285 days ago

It amazes me that I can still find great books that have been here this long! I enjoyed this very much and since I read it before I saw you're going to be published, congrats! And I'll look forward to getting my copy the old fashioned way!

Missy
Mark of Eternity

andrew skaife wrote 1286 days ago

There is a list of advice stretching back almost two years and I feel certain that you have adhered to that which you thought worthy. I cannot top the advice you already have but I can back you with a top thirty in the talent spotter list.

BACKED

John Minichillo wrote 1287 days ago

I posted THE SNOW WHALE here two years ago. At the time I was active in this community.

THE SNOW WHALE has been accepted for publication and will be available from Atticus Books in late summer / early fall 2011.

Excerpt is still posted here.

Thanks to everyone who read.

A t t i c u s B o o k s O n l i n e . c o m

Barry Wenlock wrote 1450 days ago

Hi John, I'm unable to add to the excellent comment below, but I thought it was spot-on and well deserved. Your long pitch makes you seem almost bored with it.
Best wishes, Barry
Little krisna and the Bihar Boys

SusieGulick wrote 1463 days ago

Dear John, I love your darling book cover - your story is delightful. :) Your book is a good read because you create interest by having short paragraphs & lots of dialogue, which makes me want to keep reading to find out what's going to happen next. I'm backing/commenting on your book to help it advance. Could you please return the favor by taking a moment to back/comment on my TWO books, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" & the unedited version? "Tell Me True Love Stories." Thanks, Susie :)

Phyllis Burton wrote 1535 days ago

Hello John, I have enjoyed reading part of your story. This is amusing, well written prose. I found the description of John's plan to have a DNA test to be first rate and, having found out that he was 37% Inuit, his desire to find his roots, is quite understandable. The contrast between modern plastic advertising and the Inuit style of living made a wonderful contrast. I wish you good luck with this story, although I suspect that luck is not needed. SHELVED. If you get time, would you have a look at my story please?

Phyllis
A Passing Storm

Jupiter Echoes wrote 1555 days ago



BACKED

I get very little from comments about my own book, nowadays. Some people like it, some don't. Some people are too frightened to leave genuine feedback, while others seek to enforce their own style upon me. I want to get to the Ed's Desk to get professional comment. I would rather spend 30 quid than do all this reading and backing. I have got everything I want out of Authonomy community already. So I am backing your book so that you can reach the Ed's desk and get professional feedback, instead of the platitudes and devious backings that account for 80% of backing you receive. Only 20% of comments are genuine, and will add value to your work.

Now, who am I not to back you? I am not godlike. Your work might be flatly written, unoriginal or even down right bad. It could be wonderful. But in my experience, only you can be honest with yourself about your writing... and that is what matters.

So, I am backing you so you can reach the Ed's desk.


There you are.

BACKED
Hope you reciprocate.

eamonn walls wrote 1591 days ago

Had a quick read of chapter one, nice work! :) It really reminded me of a mix between Stephen King and Michael Crichton for some reason lol, especially the dialogue. I liked the description of the library, definitely a good way to open a new section. I wasn't sure about the very start, the opening of the whole book I mean. It was pretty good, though maybe the pace could have been a little bit quicker, it's no biggy though :) Backed!
I would be much obliged if you could have a quick look at BADD by DA Seaby, a children's story about Barry Badd. I would be honoured to hear your opinion :)
Cheers and good luck
Eamonn

Simon Swift wrote 1681 days ago

John you just took the piss out of my favourite book! And I love it!!! Great writing, very funny and well worth a spin on the shelf! Good work fella!!
Simon (BLACK SHADOWS)

Pat Brehony wrote 1691 days ago

Hi John,
I hope the book is doing well.
Regards.
Pat

kkieps wrote 1693 days ago

This is one of the finest books I've read on Authonomy to date. The humor is done just right and the premise is original. Probably the greatest tribute I can give your work (or any other book, for that matter) is that I wanted to keep reading -- I wasn't just plodding through for duty's sake (as in "Gee, I better read a bit more before I comment or I'll feel like a fraud.") I had almost finished chapter one when my lunch break ended and I found myself thinking, "I look forward to returning tomorrow." It's not often I can honestly say that.

fidheallir wrote 1702 days ago

Entertaining and disturbingly accurate right from the first paragraph. When I read the "desk doodle" chapter, I laughed out loud-- brilliantly rendered corporate bullshit. I also love the whole concept, especially given the rampant cultural-appropriation-as-midlife-crisis trend in our society. Witty, timely and entertaining.
On my shelf rotation for tomorrow.

Paolito wrote 1761 days ago

John, I thought I recognized this story from ABNA, and now you've confirmed it. Frankly, I like this one much better than the novel which won. Your writing shines and the story moves along at a perfect pace, for me, at least. I'd definitely buy this.

Shelved without a qualm.

Cheers,
Sheryl (In All The Wrong Places)

M J Francis wrote 1785 days ago

This is going to seem like a lazy comment, but I don't have the time to analyse too much unfortunately. Besides, I thought this was well-written, what I've read, and an enjoyable story, so I probably can't add anything more than what has already been said. All you really need to know is it's going on my shelf :) Well done and good luck with it.

M J

Akashicvibe wrote 1791 days ago

Hi John

have had this on my WL for ages and finally got round to reading (4 chapters). Really excellent work, very well written and very funny! Shelved! Best of luck with it!
Maria (The Akashic Records)

T.A. Northburg wrote 1798 days ago

Good story, I really like the idea. Several paragraphs were a litttle long for me, they make me want to stop reading. Your dialogue is good and flows much better and keeps the story moving. I like your sense of humor with the website, myspace, swapping wives thing and the "inuit mailman?" question. Got a good chuckle. I like how the first chapter developed. Will read more.

Congrats, and good luck on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award!

I did like it so I backed ya!

lynn clayton wrote 1801 days ago

John, won't bother complimenting you on your characterisation etc. That's taken as read. The overall effect is of a funny, profound book. Backing it and wish you all success with it.
Lynn

Argonaut wrote 1802 days ago

I will say this, it attracted my attention, because I loved the original Moby Dick. I think I would like to read your entire book. I can tell it is headed into adventure land. I am watchlisting this one and after I am done I will consider bookshelving. I love odd, wierd books that take me to another world. The only thing is, I want to get there quickly. I read a few chapters of a book the other day called Goneaway into the Land. It had a couple of crushing first few chapters, I almost lost my breath reading it, and I almost stopped because of the horrid things happening to the main character. I am digressing I know, but there is a point. All of a sudden the author tranported me to a totally different world. Bang I was hooked. Sometimes flash forward or flash bacward work to intrigue the reader. You are a very good writer, my only suggestion is to mix it up more, maybe you do it later on, and obviously your book is wonderful because of the Publishers Weekly review. Congratulation on that.
I'll stay wih it. Take a look at the book I mentioned. The way, in the early chapters, it mixes reality with non reality and hints at where the main character is obviouisly headed, makes it move faster and also makes me want to read onward. Just a suggestion.
Argonaut

Elaina wrote 1806 days ago

This is amazing! Wasn't sure what to expect, a whale hunt and all that (not nice), but found this an intriguing read, beyond expectation. Very well written, great flow and love the manner in which you describe a scene- we are THERE with words alone.

Onto my shelf for a while and all the best.

Elaina
Gathering of Rain

John Harold McCoy wrote 1810 days ago

This is priceless. Saw it mentioned in a forum... figured I'd give it a try. Paydirt. The idea is beautifully outrageous. Your writing does it justice... and it's funny as hell. I could nitpick, but why bother, I'm sure you'd be cleaning up before you submitted it anywhere. Too bad it's so short. I doubt it would be published as a book... maybe a novella? But what do I know. Mine's short too.
Backed.

Pat Brehony wrote 1813 days ago

John,

I think I was an Inuit in another life! I identify so much with the remarkable lives of those wonderful, self-sufficient people. Would that they had not been touched by 'civilisation.'
Cheers.
Pat.
PS. Did you know that the 'original' Moby Dick film,s starring Gregory Peck was filmed in Youghal, County Cork around 1954?

Fandelion wrote 1814 days ago

Hi John,

Love the idea about the DNA test tracing ancestry, and the path it leads John down. The opening is well rounded and real enough that I can relate to his job and situation.

Nitpicks: lots of telling, not enough showing. A good polish will clear that up however. Didn't notice any structural probs or other issues, so good stuff.

Bookshelved.
Cheers
Chris

Pat Brehony wrote 1817 days ago

Hi John
I have now read the lot. It was surreal, yet marvellously interesting.
I know another commentator mentioned the length of some of the close-knit text. I would not carp (no pun intended) at this as it reflects, I think, the narrative in the original 'Moby Dick.'
Every success.
Pat.

Stanny wrote 1819 days ago

Nuts, and I like it.

Somehow the fact that John has decided he's Inuit on the basis of an internet DNA kit doesn't make me think he's a loony - it makes me want to go along for the ride. Most folk can associate with a disaffected office worker looking for something to bring excitement their lives again, and you've really brought htis character to life; there's a noticeable change in him as he comes to terms with his new found ancestry, and it's all shot through with high calibre wit

Great stuff, shelved

Cheers

Stanny

Alan Grainger wrote 1820 days ago

Phew !!!!! Glad I'm reading about it not doing it.
What a frightening and amazingly realistic account: your power of description is immense.
As to criticism ... just as I said before .... a lot of paragraphs are too lengthy for me.
Alan Grainger

Alan Grainger wrote 1823 days ago

Absorbing story but I do wonder about the length of some of the paragraphs.
Made up into a 7"x5" book in 12 point some of them would cover a whole page which makes it hard on the eyes of those who read in bed before going to sleep as I do.
I tend to be immediately turned off by long paragraphs. It's just a personal issue but one I feel others may share.
I am loving the adventure, of course, and flying to Anchorage is a damned sight easier than going by Greyhound bus from Haines as I did. Alan Grainger

Marie C wrote 1825 days ago

John if I read the first page of this in a book shop I would buy it. The pitch is great and I love the opening chapter of desk doodles (landing a really big desk doodle account with motto - really funny) Your writing is crispt and to the point. No negatives. I t's crazy but so real. I love it. Marie C

balkowski wrote 1826 days ago

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! I don't think there's anything left to say! Can't wait to see The Snow Whale in print!

Johanna

Lizzie C wrote 1829 days ago

John-
I really, really liked this. When I first saw your cover, I wrongly assumed that the book was a sweet children's story! Poor John sounds like he's having some sort of mid-life crisis. I sympathised with his long-suffering wife, chuckled at the implication that he might have been fathered by the mail man and wanted to keep on reading, which is the tried and tested method of establishing whether a book is worth its salt. This one most definitely is! Beautifully written, with believable characters.
Keep on writing. On my shelf!
Cheers,
Lizzie C

Jangle wrote 1830 days ago

Bravo, John! Congratulations. I'll be thinking good thoughts for the Snow Whale as I am sure many of your otherauthonomy friends will. Be sure to keep us posted.

Jan

Pat Brehony wrote 1830 days ago

Hi John,

I will be checking this out over the next day or two. The opening looks great. Pat.

John Minichillo wrote 1830 days ago

THE SNOW WHALE was named a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The field has been narrowed to 100 books, and three finalists will be selected in the coming weeks. As part of the contest, all books were reviewed by Publisher's Weekly. Here's their review:

From Publishers Weekly
In this contemporary tweak of “Moby Dick,” John Jacobs is unhappy with his job, his marriage and his life. So after a DNA test reveals he is 37% Inuit, he heads to Alaska to spend time with his people. While the book’s opening scenes feel like a satire that doesn’t quite hit its target, once John reaches Alaska with a young assistant named “Q” who wants to escape the streets, and meets up with Akmaaq, the story suddenly becomes sharper, the characters deeper, and the author demonstrates a profound knowledge of Inuit culture with conflicts between modern and traditional woven deftly into the narrative. Akmaaq wants to go on a whale partly to die at sea. His target: the snow whale, an ancient white beast that has killed hunters before. John and Q’s first whale hunt is reminiscent of Jack London, with seemingly simple descriptions — “At times they stood a few feet above the surface of the water, which occasionally surged high enough to lap over the edges, and it left the ice clean” — contributing to an overall effect of harsh grandeur, terror and exuberance. Moments of poignancy and comedy dot the adventure story, revealing a wide swath of humanity and giving John, Q and Akmaaq the opportunity to demonstrate that even something that everyone else thinks is insane may be the one thing we need the most to save ourselves.

Alan Grainger wrote 1830 days ago

What a wonderful and crazy idea for a story. I love it. I once went on a day's whale watching up the Inside Passage - the Lynn Canal, I think. We were in a small, aluminium, air propelled boat. It was amazing and frequently alarming - I cannot imagine how the innuit manged to keep upright alongside those pods of leviathans in their flimsy craft.
Just a small point re your presentation: I am well past my sell date, and find it hard to concentrate when I'm reading such long paragraphs. Take pity on the old folks and break them up a bit. Now back to the book ..... Alan Grainger (Blood On The Stones)

Gideon McLane wrote 1832 days ago

Snow Whale - John Minichille. I read the 1st 2 chapters. You have painted a good picture of a couple who are experiencing midlife crisis. Using a DNA test to prod John to try the path less taken is a great (some might say cheeky) story base. Bookshelf for originality!

Some suggestions: why would John (who to date had been a cog in the company machine) risk using co.'s 'net to place order when he could do it at home or at a public library? He doesn't really start taking risks until after the results are known. Maybe make Mike's change of sales approach 1st before John decides to order kit - gives John an incentive. Also maybe new paragraph starting with "Mike had a purpose after..." New paragraph for "Days went by."

Care to comment on mine?
Gideon
The Oil Market Czar

Shayne Parkinson wrote 1833 days ago

What a clever mix of humour and pathos and absurdity this is! As soon as I read about the seventeen varieties of yogurt, I knew I'd be backing it. I've now read the first two chapters, and I honestly have no idea what's going to happen next, but I know I want to find out.

Shelved.

tadhgfan wrote 1833 days ago

John,
I read somewhere this was doing well on that Amazon search thingy. How did you fair?
Gotta love desk doodles! Who doesn’t? You see some bizarre thing on a desk and you play with it. It is the child in everyone! :p
--from the pitch this seems completely unique to me. (The plot not the concept obviously.) You present it well and although it is not a book I would normally read, Authonomy bring everyone together. And I am glad for it.
You write very well. Dialogue is good. Story flows nicely.
Shelved.
Good luck with this :)

Gina

Armen Chakmakjian wrote 1835 days ago

No doubt you will carry this to much success. I love the letters you've interspersed in the text. They lend an authenticity to the actions. In chapter 4 in particular you spend a lot of time explaining the nuances of igloos. Fun stuff that I've locked away in my brain for future reference. Shelved

Armen Chakmakjian wrote 1835 days ago

No doubt you will carry this to much success. I love the letters you've interspersed in the text. The lend an authenticity to the actions. In chapter 4 in particular you spend a lot of time explaining the nuances of igloos. Fun stuff that I've locked away in my brain for future reference. Shelved

barberi wrote 1837 days ago

John Ive just started reading your book and it's delightful. easy reading, moves fast, humorous, quirky...you really get the sense of dread and boredom behind the desk, and the instant conversion to inuit through having his wife as a breeder had me smiling broadly. a lovely touch. only one comment - very small - too many "likes" in the beginning - you could use ""as if" or something else for the same meaning. maybe it's because "like" has become such an overused word - dont know about in the states but here it peppers conversation in a lazy sort of way. i'll continue reading when i'm back on line, all the best Barberi

Robin Helweg-Larsen wrote 1838 days ago

Hi John, Snow Whale provokes rich and conflicting responses in me. It's realistic, on the fringe of unrealistic, but that fringe where people are close to totally losing their marbles, but using it to reframe themselves for the sake of their sanity. It's funny, but depressing, in the way it deals with the phenomenal ignorance our society has developed of the world around us, the misapprehensions, the stereotypes, the totally inaccurate firmly-held-truths. John's relationship with his wife is so strong, and in such a weak state. Genuine American literature, would make a great movie (but would they manage to maintain the tightrope act you've perfected?)

I'm very glad you're in the ABNA Quarterfinals. Good luck going forward. This is a very strong book. I'll post a version of my comments there too.

Robin

Paul Samuel wrote 1839 days ago

Clever, witty funny and well written. Well done. Would value such an artists opinion on mine.

Paul S (Standalone Farm)

Debbie14k wrote 1839 days ago

Hi John,

Your book is among the very best on this site--and that is saying a lot for the quality of books here is top. Your humor and and writing astonish me.

I love the corporate life setting, as my first husband, now in heaven, was a P & G man. We were an all out corporate family.

Thanks for this treat of your book.

Mom of Debbie 14 k (the k is for kids)

Geoff Thorne wrote 1840 days ago

My ABNA review is as follows...

Well. Right off the top I'd like to say that this sort of fiction isn't really my thing. There are, as yet, no aliens, private eyes, Russian mobsters or secret covens.

Yet I was strangely compelled to keep reading. I enjoyed Mr. John Jacobs deciding to climb out of his gray little life and I very much enjoyed the ease a perfection with which the writer described that life. The tone is almost clinical in its presentation, simply laying out the facts of this story in direct sequence without once coming off as over-written or as a laundry list.

I don't know if I'd BUY it because I generally don't buy this sort of book, but I'm certainly enjoying reading it so far. It's professional. Polished and quite interesting so far.

If there is a criticism it is that I don't feel emotionally engaged in the story, only intellectually so. It's like a fun puzzle to see unravel or be assembled.

You're backed.

marion wrote 1840 days ago

I suppose I was waiting for and anticipating the DNA test details. I find the whole concept interesting and totally believeable that the result of such a test could have a profound influence on a ma n's goal inlife. DNA couldchange everyting a person thought about himself.
You illustrate so clearly the triviality of some peoples lives in the sterile environment of a modern office. I think it is a very well drawn well thought out book... Marion

Name failed moderation wrote 1842 days ago

John,
Call me Interested.
Great writing. Should be published.
Best of luck with this.
Backed.
Rona

Raymond Terry wrote 1842 days ago


John,

I love your character John Jacobs on the phone at UniqCorps selling seamless solid plastic curios.It is just such a picture.The dryness, the boredom, the utter futility of an imagined future in cheap crap and I stop to realize that it is people such as John Jacobs that have made this country great!

You know, the United States is nothing if not a nation of whiskey drummers and bible salesmen. Every single one of our children grow up reveling in the fruits of marketing programs, slimy PR campaigns and hucksterisms of every single sort and for everything they touch or see or want or emulate. If they are very lucky children, and I include myself in this category, they will learn a lesson from the hoopla and come to appreciate that everything worthwhile that they will ever achieve in life will ultimately depend on their ability to SELL. Your character already knows this as he plods away seeking meaning to his existence and wondering .

I am eager to read more John and I will do that before long. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the book after chapter 1. Until then, please ship me as soon as possible at my Florida address five 'Desk Doodles' with different colors of 'goo'. RT

Nicky Jones wrote 1842 days ago

Hi John, really enjoyed reading the first 2 chapters. The pace is spot on and keeps the reader gripped. The light tone is also perfect. This has got to be a best seller! I will try to come back for more soon. Nicky.

Niki_G wrote 1843 days ago

Hi John,

I've been meaning to comment on this for a while now. It's been on my ABNA an authonomy lists. I just left you a comment over at ABNA, so here I'll just say: fantastic! It's on my shelf.

Cy wrote 1843 days ago

John,
Love it. I've had your book on my WL for quite some time now, and I'm glad I finally got to it. What wonderful characters!
Your dialogue is fantastic. I loved the tidbits about yogurt in Mongolia...I was laughing so hard that someone would even know how many types they had....
John and Jessica are a great pair, both so unhappy yet still tied together as they go on their quests. I look forward to reading more about their journey when I can come back to your story.
My only suggestion for editing is my biggest pet peeve: You use It was, There was, etc. quite a bit and without them your writing would be perfect.
Good luck!
Shelved!
Cy
the Neverlight