by Gregory Spatz


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934137420
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Gregory Spatz is the author of the novels Inukshuk, Fiddler’s Dream, and No One But Us, and the short fiction collections Wonderful Tricks and Half as Happy. He has also written for the Oxford American and Poets and Writers and his stories have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker. He is the recipient of a Washington State Book Award, Spokane Arts Commission Individual Artist of the Year Award, and National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he teaches in the MFA program at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. When he’s not writing or teaching, Spatz plays fiddle and tours with Mighty Squirrel and the internationally acclaimed bluegrass band John Reischman and The Jaybirds.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Library Journal Best Indie Novel of the Year

“An elaborate tale of family and the paths people take to understanding.” —Seattle Times

“[This] mix of well-researched history and contemporary fiction makes for a fine, sad read.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Hauntingly honest and emotionally resonant.” —Publishers Weekly

“Intimate and meditative . . . A thoughtful and sympathetic look at the sometimes troubled relationship between fathers and sons.” —Booklist

“A mesmerizing story of a father and a son.” —Largehearted Boy

“Thomas, bullied at school, confused by love (with a delightfully original girl), pining for his mother, and distrustful of his father, takes control of the only thing he can—his physical survival. . . . A frozen lullaby . . . written for teens left behind.” —Bookslut

Inukshuk better communicates darkness and distress than any S.O.S. signal. . . . We can’t help but oscillate between feeling empathy and agony for this family as we are absorbed by Spatz’s cold, gripping tale.” —ZYZZYVA

“This enthralling, tense book should lure not only fans of extreme weather novels but also those who admire a good, traditional structure and a satisfying and meaningful resolution.” —NewPages

“Entertaining and much recommended.” —Midwest Book Review

Inukshuk is a feat of empathy and honesty, a taut tale of fear and resentment and other threats from within, meticulously observed and fearlessly rendered in vivid, authoritative, gripping prose. It’s a virtuoso performance.” —DOUG DORST, author of Alive in Necropolis and The Surf Guru

“Gregory Spatz’s prose is as clean and sparkling as a new fall of snow.” —JANET FITCH, author of White Oleander and Paint it Black

“At its heart Inukshuk is about family. But Spatz has transfigured this beautifully told, wise story with history and myth, poetry and magic into something rarer, stranger and altogether amazing. A book that points unerringly true north.” —KAREN JOY FOWLER, author of The Jane Austen Book Club and Wit’s End

“One of the most innovative and unusual fictional incarnations I’ve ever read of the persistent allure of Sir John Franklin’s final, fatal Arctic voyage. It’s a remarkable accomplishment.” —RUSSELL POTTER, author of Arctic Spectacles

Customer Reviews

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Inukshuk 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
reluctantm on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book was so close to having me enjoy it, but there were just so many misplaced details that I just couldn't fall into the story in the way that Spatz intended.Firstly, the description: a ``remote northern Canadian town"? The story takes place on the outskirts of Calgary. There are a million people in Calgary, more than, according to the 2010 US Census, San Jose, San Francisco, or Charlotte. As a former resident of Calgary, I can tell you that no one in Canada considers Calgary to be either remote or northern. If the story had been set in Fort McMurray, I might have accepted the label of northern, but Calgary, no. Unfortunately, this is just one of the Americanisms that seems to have slipped into the novel: the school year divided into quarters rather than semesters, using Hershey's to make hot chocolate rather than Nestle (page 123), talking about Québec ``seceding from the union" rather than separating from Canada (page 110). Moreover, John selling his house for a quarter of a million (page 29); if he sold his house in Calgary for only a quarter of a million dollars, he was seriously ripped off. An eight hundred square foot, two bedroom house in my old neighbourhood (Capitol Hill) sold for over $350 000 two years ago. If they were living in any of the nicer, family oriented neighbourhoods, he should have cleared half a million for a house.So the Canadian errors then soured the rest of the novel for me. I can sense that there's a story there, a meaningful one, but I just can't make myself get there. The long sentences and dense paragraphs also work against any sense of momentum or change or discovery that the novel is reaching for. It's too bogged down, both in style and in subplots (Jill, Devon, bullying, Moira, sleepwalking, is scurvy making him crazy or does he see it, Moira's ex-husband). Clean up the Canadian details, edit until the verbiage is spartan to match the barren landscape of tundra Thomas is so obsessed with, drop the bullying sideline, possibly the superfluous brother as well, and there could be a real gem buried here. As it stands, it's too muddled with too much going on and too many factual errors for it to be truly enjoyable.
fmgee on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Inukshuk tells tells the story of John Franklin a high school teacher and poet and his son Thomas who is obsessed with the more famous John Franklin and his attempt to discover the northwest passage. I really did not know what to expect when I started to read this book but it really drew me in as time went by. More than anything I found this book to be the parallel struggles of a 15 year old boy with self esteem issues searching for his identity and his father who appears to have lost his sense of identity and has only realised that with the breakdown of his marraige. At only 220 pages there is a lot of emotional content in the book. The writing was wonderful, very descriptive and did not shy away from any content which allowed it to capture the sense of the son at 15 and his father. I highly recommend this book.
LMHTWB on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Thomas is a teenager obsessed with the ill-fated Franklin Expedition. He plans a film of their demise as he experiments to understand what they experienced. His father, Franklin, is unaware of his son's experiment because he is lost in his own world of dealing with the loss of his wife, who has left him to work in the Artic north. This book has been described as a coming of age story. I'm not sure I agree -- yes, there is a teenage boy and yes, he's trying new things, but I'm not sure he learns anything about himself or what it means to be an adult. Actually, I'm not sure what I think of the book overall. The writing is technically good. Thomas, the teenager, is interesting but a bit on the crazy side. The father is a mess, emotionally and seems not to connect to people, even though he's a teacher. I found it very depressing in spots and could only read it in small 20-30 page segments. When I got done I was left wondering if there was a point to the book in general or if I just missed it.
agnesmack on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I¿m not sure why I didn¿t love this book. The writing is concise and the dialog is excellently crafted. The story is that of a family living in an area that¿s completely foreign to me ¿ and largely to them as well ¿ which is a scenario I typically find intriguing. Yet, for some reason, I was underwhelmed with this book.Maybe it was the angsty teenager, who was so passionate about creating a realistic sea-faring world that he gave himself scurvy and documented his own decline. Perhaps it was the many excerpts from the sea-faring manuscript the son was writing, which were typically dull and rarely added anything relevant to the story.Or maybe I just couldn¿t stand the father, who seemed so damn resigned and apathetic to his life, and just generally clueless when it came to the health and well-being of his son.I would completely understand why someone would like this, because the formula is mostly there. But in the end it just didn¿t quite work for me.