Heid's Reviews > People of the Whale

People of the Whale by Linda Hogan
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's review
Dec 29, 2008

really liked it
Read in January, 2008

Beautiful as all her prose, this book took me to the ocean and into the minds of a character whose transcendent relationship with water figures as heavily as the plot based on human experience. Excellent and troubling depictions of community politics and tribal obligations. And yet, as compelling as I found this book, I had to wonder over Hogan's creating a fictional tribe who (very like the actual Makah tribe) decide to reinstate the hunting of whales. I do not know why the Makah decided to hunt, but take as given they were within their rights. Hogan's fictional tribe set out to kill a whale for reasons stated as spiritual but it seems everyone knows the true motivations are economic. In the end it all goes horribly wrong, of course.

All in all, the politics of hunting whales becomes less the center of this story than the post-trauma of one of the characters. Thomas Just's story of post-Vietnam trauma and his relationship to Ruth, a woman who loves the ocean like pentecostals love Jesus, is what makes People of the Whale a good read.
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03/05/2016 marked as: read

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