SAVE THE WHALE by Michael Koepf


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A brittle and acerbic send-up of environmentalism, Northern California-style. Cut off from his G.I. education benefits, hero Stanley takes to the woods around Mendocino and meets up on the free food distribution line with Jorgi and Janett. P. T. Barnum himself would have spotted a kindred spirit in Jorgi; under that geodesic and grow-your-own exterior is a supreme con-man, full of engaging hype (""Order and harmony in the world are always cooked up by guys from small towns. Athens: population two thousand"") and hot-cha schemes: hunting junk metal, poaching for abalone, etc. When he finds (not so accidentally, we later learn) a dead whale on the beach, he and Janett and Stanley move into action; stealing four 50-gallon drums of formaldehyde, they do a makeshift embalming job on the creature, hoist it Up onto a rented flat-bed truck, and then haul it off toward the Big Bucks. In chic and rich shopping centers, the sight of a dead whale and an environmental pitch sells a lot of bumper stickers that say ""Savethe-Whales."" And it gets juicier: politicians want in, want to pose against the thing; an oil company wants to rent it for use in one of their commercials; they even bring it to the goff tournament at Pebble Beach for high visibility. But when the leviathan starts to rot and nothing they can do--not mothballs, not Lysol, not even incense--helps, things unravel quickly. Koepf has a zingy, journalistic style, keeps his tut-tutting down to a minimum and his satire quick and well-paced. A one-joke carload, but bright and carrying more than a few wicked laughs.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1978
Publisher: McGraw-Hill