Synopses & Reviews
Reminiscent of Christopher Moore's Fluke and Neil Gaiman's American Gods, this slightly fantastical tale is told from the perspective of ever reluctant Orange Whippey, the story of his involvement in the comically unnecessary Whale Network unfolds as rival whaling factions, Korean smugglers/ultra tourists/storytellers, and a privacy advocating talking head all do their best to keep him from doing what he would ultimately prefer to do: Nothing. Set on the tiny, fictional island of Bismuth, it moves at a languid pace as Orange is dragged, far too often, to writhing lagoons, rusted ship hulks, hellish saunas, and private islands, creating a subtly farcical, always absurd setting for numerous misadventures.
"This delightfully loopy debut combines Down East deadpan with elements of Nordic mythology and Pynchonesque pyrotechnics in following the misadventures of Orange Whippey on and around the North Atlantic island of Bismuth. Ericson's Maine coastal setting lies at the edge of the surreal, where whaling interests scheme to control a network of tech-savvy whales that could bring humanity closer together. Pursuing this literary McGuffin, Orange teams up with a pair of shadowy Koreans steeped in the lore of mythical whaling rivals. It's not plot that carries this novel but Ericson's funny if occasionally overstuffed prose. For instance, the origins of Estonindian 'black metal dub' music are thusly explained: 'If Francis Scott Key had been a ninth-century raider whose head was still throbbing and clanging from an ax-blow to the helmet, standing with one hand braced on the dragon prow of his longship watching his enemies' tarred warships burning in an uncanny blue bituminous haze, while unseen galley slaves chanting the stroke rumbled the ship from below, he may have closed his eyes, thought of Ragnarok, and composed an anthem like this.' Lines like these and hilarious set pieces subjugate the narrative to the author's fanciful notions, resulting in a genial tale that meanders like an errant, stoned humpback. (Sept. 20)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Orange himself reads like Pynchon's Doc Sportello. Add a splash of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, too....A superbly crafted mixture of humor and observations of modern life, a combination of barely-noticeable detective fiction and magical realism, something uniquely its own and, in the end, a truly good read. Swell is a fantastic novel." Line Zero
"A raucous roller-coaster ride . . . the writer deconstructs all things New England to hilarious effect. Ericson's tale reveals strong flavors of Tom Robbins, but there is also a splash of Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Just sit back and enjoy the long strange trip." Shelf Awareness
tells the saga of non-hero Orange Whippey as he trips his way across the small island of Bismuth.
When Orange finds himself stranded on a gull-infested rock in need of rescue, his nemesis Mr. Lucy and his dull-minded son Donny offer to pick him up in exchange for a day's work. Instead, Orange is thrown into a maritime adventure where Korean tourists with a knack for storytelling turn out to be smugglers, rival whaling factions rule the waters and reignite old divisions from the Northern Indian countries of Europe, and a mystery is set in motion involving a secretive gift gone missing. His friends Snoori — a Finlindian whale herder who used to be married to a bear — and Waldena — an Estonindian harpoonist and Thor cult priestess—do their best to find the gift before anyone else does. And they keep Orange from doing exactly what he'd like to do. Nothing.
Off the coast of a tiny island a mysterious package goes missing.
Rival whaling factions reignite an ancient feud when their paths cross.
Korean smugglers want to open a bed and breakfast.
A privacy expert sets in motion her plan to create a cell phone network using migrating whales....
And Orange Whippey doesn't like any of it.
About the Author
Corwin Ericson is an MFA graduate of UMass Amherst and the former managing editor of the Massachusetts Review. His fiction has appeared in Harper's, The Believer, jubilat, and Fence. Swell is his first novel.
Table of Contents
Chapter One – Stranded and Conscripted Chapter two – Smugglers on the Polk Chapter Three – Seagum Chapter Four – The Angie Baby Chapter Five – The Tender and the Hammer Maiden Chapter Six – Oysters in the Topsoil Chapter Seven – Waldena, the Estonindian Chapter Eight – A Special Terror in Ely Pond Chapter Nine – Mission Statement Chapter Ten – Gaeity Chapter Eleven – The Sauna Chapter Twelve – Up Late with Mineola Chapter Thirteen – In Bed with the Bear Groom Chapter Fourteen – The Yankee Circumciser Chapter Fifteen – Winslow Homer and the Price of Tartar Sauce Chapter Sixteen – A Twelve Pack and the Lucky Lady Chapter Seventeen – Waldena in Balsam and Hashish Chapter Eighteen – Field Trip to a Dead Whale Chapter Nineteen – Castaways Chapter Twenty – New Friends on the Princess Pea Chapter Twenty-one – The Indian Boys Reformatory, a True Story Chapter Twenty-Two – BBQ Squid Chapter Twenty-Three – Donald Slips a Mickey Chapter Twenty-Four – Brief Redemption Chapter Twenty-Five – Sampo in the Shed Chapter Twenty-Six – Reeled in Chapter Twenty-Seven – The Thing Chapter Twenty-Eight – The Double Shift Chapter Twenty-Nine – Provisioning for the Voyage Chapter Thirty – The Whale Network Chapter Thirty-One – A New Telephone Chapter Thirty-Two – The Wrong Whale -EPILOGUE- Part One: Life Preserver Part Two: Hyperborea