When a giant sperm whale washes up on the local beach and tells Joe Gunner that death will follow him wherever he goes. Joe knows that the place he needs to go is back home. Having stormed out two years ago, it won't be easy, nor will returning to the river alongside the house where words ripple beneath the muddy black water washing up all sorts of memories and disturbing prophesies. Joe turns to his sister, Birdee, the only person who has ever listened.
But she can't help him, she drowned two years earlier, even though he still talks to her as if she never went away. Then there's Tim Fysh. A local fisherman and long time lover.
But reviving their bond is not without trouble. He tells himself that the whale's prediction is wrong. But the river is relentless.
By night it makes him piss the bed, by day it is there yipping from the bank, filling his head with rubbish, warning him to give Fysh up. Joe gets close to beating back the noise, but death still echoes. Then as the sea settles and Joe learns the truth about the river and finds that we all have the capability to hate, and that we can all make the choice not to.
Ransom's fractured, distinctive prose highlights the beauty and brutality of his story, his extraordinarily vivid sense of place saturates the reader with the wet of the river, and the salty tang of the heaving sea.
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