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The Snow Whale

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  57 ratings  ·  19 reviews
When John Jacobs, a mild-mannered suburban office worker, takes a DNA test and discovers that he is part-Inuit, he so embraces his new identity that he declares it his Inupiat tribal right to set forth on a whale hunt.

So begins this postmodern satire, a seriocomic, quirky adventure set in the oldest continuously settled town in North America, in the North Slope of Alaska,
Paperback, 266 pages
Published July 30th 2011 by Atticus Books (first published July 29th 2011)
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At first, I didn't like the main character. I called him an insipid little man, deserving a slap alongside the head. Some reviewers found it laugh-out-loud funny. I was ready to pack the book in.

I'm glad that I perservered. The book, and the character became much more interesting as the protagonist goes to the Arctic in search of himself and a whale. Not only does he question his life, but his wife questions hers as well.

The book is a contemporary retelling of Moby Dick. I have never read Moby D
Laura Ellen
You don’t need to have read Moby Dick to enjoy John Minichillo’s witty, short re-telling, The Snow Whale. But does it help? Having spent my life in academic literature programs, somehow I never read Melville’s seminal work, so I have no idea. And given that I have smaller, prettier fish to fry, I’m happy to leave the Dick appreciation to my co-bloggers. But if I missed all or some of the referential nuances of The Snow Whale, it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment. Essentially a story about a man ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Of all the different types of contemporary novels out there, perhaps my favorite is the "Michael-Chabon-type" one (for lack of a better term), in which an academic attention to style and craft is applied to a fast-moving, often wackiness-infused plot; and the latest volume I've read to fit this bill is Joh
The Snow Whale by John Minichillo, which is published by local Maryland publisher Atticus Books, is a satire of Moby Dick by Herman Melville to a certain extent. The debut novel centers on the life-changing decision of John Jacobs, a zombified office worker selling desk doodles to corporations via telephone, to find out his ancestry through a cheek-swab DNA test. The results come back and find him more than one-third Eskimo/Inuit, and its enough for John to quit his job, take a vacation from his ...more
There were parts of Minichillo’s debut that had me giggling with delight, usually because of a consistently entertaining couple of characters as well as some sly, clever writing on the author’s part. Minichillo writes in a way that makes you want to get behind John and his adventure, despite its frequent absurdity.

The whole novel felt a bit exaggerated, less like a tale I sunk into with disbelief suspended and more like intellectual candy on which to suck. The story lay just beyond the grasp of
Marjean Murray
This a a very clever book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is funny (laugh out loud, at times), quirky and yet a warm tale about relationships and the quest for finding yourself. The story takes you to a place most of us don't normally travel - the hinterlands of Alaska - for a whale hunt. I was absorbed into the life of the main character and felt as if I lived the expedition, complete with frozen toes and the smell of fish. A wonderful summer read. The day after I finished the book, it received a ...more
John Jacobs does a DNA test because of his colleague who found that he was part Mongolian and spent his holiday in Mongolia. However, he didn’t really connect with “his people” and when John finds out he’s 37% Inuit, he decides to do better than that. He sends a letter to “his tribe” to introduce himself and tell them he’ll be visiting soon. However, he receives the reply that they do not want him there.

But then, the chief of the tribe, an old man, who is considered a liability by the rest of hi
A unique storyline featuring an assortment of characters makes this a most interesting tale. John Jacobs finds, through a DNA test, that he is part Inuit. Currently bored with his job and his life, he decides to embrace his new found ancestry. He is determined to take part in the Inuit tradition of a whale hunt. He contacts the elders of the Inuk and is at first rebuffed, but he never waivers in his resolve. Later, he receives another letter from Akmaaq, a former chief, who welcomes him to the e ...more
This retelling of Moby Dick sees a contemporary John Jacobs turn his mediocre life inside out after learning (via a dubious DNA test) that he is of predominantly Inuit descent. The brave move to describe a modern American white man leaving an almost-happily married life in suburbia to hunt whales is, of course, utterly absurd. Sadly the novel isn’t quite funny enough to pull of its ludicrousness and Minichillo, like Melville before him, too late submerges the reader in engaging adventure. A quir ...more
Aaron Baker
I received a review copy of this book through Netgalley.

This was a half decent book but I'm not sure what the point was. At times it seemed to want to be a modern day "Moby Dick" and at other times it wanted to be a modern day coming-of-age novel. Sadly, it was stuck somewhere inbetween and it just left me wanting. I've liked books like this in the past (post-modern books which let you decide what the books is about) but I think that maybe this books was trying too hard to be one of those books
yes, THAT great white whale, and he's back, attempting to fight for the lives of endangered whales everywhere, but especially on the north slope coast. follow john jacobs, mild mannered suburban drone who grasps for an authentic life after sending in a $99 dollar dna test and finds out he's 1/3 inuit. so he finds some unsuspecting alaskan tribe to come find his roots at and gets to go bowhead whale hunting (with a one-eyed ex-chief bound to find and kill the snow whale too).
a refreshing and bit
I bought this book because a friend of mine from high school/college wrote it. I quickly forgot that was the reason as I was captivated by the story.
The characters are sweet and funny with just enough of a hard edge to keep them from being boring.
All in all it is exactly the kind of book I enjoy most of that has something to say, without hitting you over the head with it, all wrapped up in lighthearted, beautiful prose.

Quirky... Like Office Space meets Moby Dick somewhere on the coast of Northern Alaska. A mostly fun read, though I never could muster interest in the main character's wife. A little melancholy in some ways, but more often a rather fantastical story of one man's quest to shake off the humdrum of "everyday". I liked it!
something different
Indie Books For99
Moby Dick was one of my favorite novels so this modern adaptation I found thoroughly enjoyable as I picked up plenty of allusions to the former. Surprisingly this book has a comic element. Too bad this book isn't 99 cents.
Christopher Bundy
As a fan of Moby Dick, this was a must read. I wasn't disappointed - characters were interesting and the narrative was compelling, if a bit predictable in the second half. I will definitely look for another Minichillo book.
man in boring job finds out he has inut blood leaves wife and job to bond with his dna has a funny and disturbing time whaling in alaska
K.J. Kron
I found myself laughing at the beginning but by the end it became quite intense. Completely enjoyed it.
Julie Wann
This is not my usual type of read, but I am glad I read it. It was fun, creative, and adventurous.
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