Whale Music

Paul Quarrington's novel tells the story of a reclusive former rock star, who is working on his musical masterpiece in hopes of making a comeback.

Paul Quarrington

Des Howell is a former rock 'n' roll star who never leaves his secluded oceanfront mansion. Naked, rich and fabulously deranged, he subsists on a steady diet of whiskey, pharmaceuticals and jelly doughnuts and occasionally works on his masterpiece, "Whale Music." One day, upon awakening from his usual drunken stupor, Des discovers on his sofa a young alien from the faraway universe of Toronto. This girl has made the trek to Des' hideaway because she believes in the "Whale Music" and she's crazy enough to think that Des can make a comeback hit with his mad magnum opus. (From Vintage Canada)

Whale Music won the 1989 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

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From the book

There is a toe sticking out from underneath a green blanket on my living-room sofa. A lovely toe, a pale dainty toe. A toe that has never tested dirty bathwater. I am fond of pretty toes like this, because my own are so ugly. My big toes are huge and flat like ping-pong paddles. The rest are deformed midget toes, little squirmy grub toes. The nails are hard and horny and for some reason have turned bright yellow.

From Whale Music by Paul Quarrington ©1987. Published by Vintage Canada.

Author interviews

Paul Quarrington on reclusion and writing ‘Whale Music’

Digital Archives

31 years ago
Novelist Paul Quarrington explains how reclusion became the driving force for his award-winning novel 'Whale Music'. 6:11