A Whale Watcher’s Guide to the Apocalypse by Lewis Evans

Have you ever seen an author take every possible Canadian and relevant timely trait possible and smash it together? If you read this book, then you have.

Beaver hats? Yes. Leaving a big job in the city to “live in the wilderness”? Yes. Aggressive French accents? Oui. Going on a road trip and living in a small vehicle while doing so? Done. Red tape-laden RCMP officers? Yes. Living in Ontario? Let’s make fun of that too.

The story begins with a man who decides to take control of his life and start for a new “frontier”. He grabs some cheap lager from a nearby convenience store, and gets together his essentials for camping out in the wilderness (those would be beef sticks, jerky and the like) but alas he becomes tired and drunk too quickly. He passes out on a mattress near the Rideau Canal and is swept away in a flood.

The absurdity continues from there.

It’s framed as a Bildungsroman, or, a novel where the main character is suddenly seeking to gain control of his life in his formative years and things evolve out of his control. But most of the things that happen are entirely due to his control. There is no journey of growth or identity formation. The man is intended to be framed as someone naive but comes across only as someone who refuses to acknowledge that he is wrong.

While I can understand the attempted point of this satirical work, I can’t recommend it to anyone. There are too many occasions where the author had a chance to punch up but only succeeded in punching down. 

The point felt completely missed. The author focuses so much on people leaving big cities for the wilderness as if it’s a joke when it’s because they’re tired of feeling detached. People want to live in a vehicle and travel because after a pandemic and being stressed for years, they want to feel alive again. We’re yearning for any type of connection and engagement, even if it comes through gardening and a cool wilderness knife.

Why choose to target something so real that is felt by hundreds of people and make it into one big satirical joke?

And frankly, the depth the author went to when describing the raccoons under the deck and their deaths was needless and turned my stomach.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Deux Voiliers Publishing (April 17 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 218 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1928049583
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1928049586

Stephanie Sirois (they/them) is a writer, artist and journalist on unceded Wolastoqiyik territory. They spend their time reading, writing, making art and exhorting their family into playing board games with them.