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The Beluga Cafe: My Strange Adventure with Art, Music, and Whales in the Far North: Whales and Music in an Arctic Landscape (A Sierra Book Club publication) Hardcover – 19 Nov 2002

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Hardcover, 19 Nov 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (19 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578050820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578050826
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.5 x 22.4 cm

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Product Description

About the Author

Jim Nollman has been involved in animal communications research for thirty years and is known around the world for playing music with whales. He directs Interspecies Inc., a nonprofit organization that brings artists into wild places to transform human perceptions about habitat and animals. He is the author of several books of nature writing, including The Charged Border: Where Whales and Humans Meet. His CD, Orcas' Greatest Hits, documents wild orcas improvising songs with human musicians. Nollman lives on an island in Puget Sound.

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Who are we to say 5 July 2005
By Patricia Kramer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a very powerful book. It is not the typical wilderness adventure book. Unlike the TV nature show, amazing things don't happen every few mintutes. In fact few amazing things happen at all, yet the whole experience of small wilderness experiences add up to a book that will take you to another place.

"It seems critical to me to devote some part of each year to this nothingness, this time without time, this confrontation with animal demons real and imagined, learning once again how to surrender to some internal environment made external."

Nollman confronts the question of us versus them strongly in this book with the us being modern society and them being animals, nature and native cultures. He feels the chance has been lost to learn from "them" in a way that everyone would benefit, instead of disregarding that knowledge and destroying it.

Chapter 15 begins with a wonderful quote by Carl Safina from Song for the Blue Ocean. "Ecosystems are now like history books with many of the pages ripped out. And when people come along there is no way for them to know what was on those torn-out pages. Their values are not constructed around the abundance that once filled those holes. They accept the blank parts as though they've always been there."

Nollman pulls no punches in what he experiences on this trip including describing the constant difficult and loving give and take among the three soujourners.

This is a strong book and well worth the time to read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A well-intentioned effort but deeply disappointing 1 Nov. 2010
By Kieran Fox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Let me say that I love whales and dolphins (I've been reading about them for years and in Fall 2009 I did an internship with a whale research center in Northeast Quebec) and I love the North (I spent summers working in both Alaska and the Yukon) so I thought I would greatly enjoy this book. Though Nollman has a keen eye for nature's beauty and an admirable candidness regarding his (often very petty) interactions with his two journey-mates, the book becomes a chore fairly quickly. What went wrong? My diagnosis: a lot of background and build-up, and no pay off. 200 pages in you start to get suspicious that they still haven't found any belugas or other whales, and then suddenly the book ends and you realize - nothing's happened. These three guys went up North, spent thousands of dollars, pissed off everyone in the area (the Natives think they're trying to mess with their ancestral rights to hunt the whales, which, ultimately, they are; park rangers think they are trying to secretly gather evidence that offshore oil-drilling explosions are hurting and killing whales which they would like to do, though that's not their purpose; etc.), bickered a great deal amongst themselves, and saw nothing. The overwhelming impression here is that Nollman already had a book deal signed for this journey before he went on it, and then he had to pony up even though he had little if anything to show for the trip. If I recall correctly, the only appearance that a beluga makes in this whole book is as a cube of blubber offered to the author's gang by some Inuit natives, who are later roundly condemned as needlessly slaughtering the few remaining whales in the area.

This is not a poorly written or executed work, but it just goes nowhere and we have nothing to focus on but the three protagonists themselves -- who mostly don't present themselves very well with their bickering and repeated childish tantrums. Finally, there aren't any belugas or other whales!!!
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
a wonderful story 29 Mar. 2005
By David Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a quite wonderful story.... a music of words.... ebbing and flowing between near-surreal and ultra-surreal with only a few intrusions of pure didactic rationalism. Buy it and read it.
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