Wintner, Robert 1948-

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Wintner, Robert 1948-


Born August 14, 1948, in Evansville, IN; son of Leon and Perline Wintner; married, wife's name Anita. Ethnicity: "Druid." Education: University of Missouri, B.A., 1970. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Motorcycling, travel, animal welfare.


Office—Snorkel Bob's, 6689 Makena Rd., Kihei, HI 96753. E-mail—[email protected]


Savannah Morning News, Savannah, GA, writer, 1972-74; Snorkel Bob's (retail snorkel shop), Kihei, HI, founder and owner, 1986—, designer of original equipment, 1999—. Host of Hawaiian radio show The Real Time Story Hour, 1980s. Snorkel Bob Foundation, executive director; member of Modern Outreach Management Consortium and North West Hawaiian Island Network.


Whirlaway (novel), Smallwood (Tucson, AZ), 1994.

Snorkel Bob's Reality Guide to Hawaii (travel book), Smallwood (Tucson, AZ), 1994.

Hagan's Trial, and Other Stories, Smallwood (Tucson, AZ), 1995.

The Ice King (novel), Smallwood (Tucson, AZ), 1995.

Horndog Blue (novel), Smallwood (Tucson, AZ), 1995.

The Prophet Pasqual (novel), Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 1999.

Homunculus (novel), Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2000.

The Modern Outlaws (novel), ToExcel, 2000.

Lonely Hearts, Changing Worlds (short stories), Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2001.

Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing (novel), Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2003.

In a Sweet Magnolia Time (novel), Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Ford Times, Hawaii Review, and Sports Illustrated.


Robert Wintner has said that he writes fiction based on his own experiences, especially reflecting his flair for travel and adventure. His first novel, Whirlaway, follows his exploits sailing from California to Hawaii in 1983. In the novel, two wayward men seek wealth and comfort in an ambitious boating excursion. Hagan's Trial, and Other Stories is a collection reflecting the author's affinity for nature and recounting his exploits at racetracks and as a motorcycling traveler in Europe. A Booklist reviewer called Hagan's Trial "fine" and noted the volume's multiplicity of voices, which were considered "as distinctive as they are entertaining."

The Ice King relates Wintner's early experiences as a girl scout camper, a gambler, and a juvenile delinquent. Subsequent fiction includes The Prophet Pasqual, which concerns the efforts of opportunists to exploit an unlikely guru, and The Modern Outlaws, a novel about motorcycle aficionados taking to the open road, which prompted praise from Thunder Press reviewer Terry Roorda. Wintner "nails the nuances [of the open road-riding experience] with expert prose and paints his imagery with a fine, fresh brush," Roorda observed. "His style and intelligence transcend genre, and with The Modern Outlaws he has not so much written an excellent biker novel, as he's written an excellent novel that just happens to be populated with bikers."

Wintner is also the author of Snorkel Bob's Reality Guide to Hawaii, wherein he provides vacation information. Patty Campbell, writing in Wilson Library Bulletin, described Wintner's literary style as "an easy mix of educated journalese, Hawaiian pidgin, and his own inimitable syntax."

Wintner once told CA: "My favorite image of a modern writer is one who must write because she can't not write. She can't just walk away from it. What would be left of her life? Except for right now, because she has a stubborn case of writer's block. Oh, she's tried everything, and she knows it'll go away. She just knows it. She's planning to attend a writer's conference.

"I'm from the experience school of writing. Getting out in the world and mixing it up leaves no room for writer's block. Experience means movement, outdoors, on the road or the open sea, far from home, where the world can be viewed through the eyes of a fresh visitor. Experience is on hold in a classroom or an office or at home. Diesel engines don't have distributors, unless you've never seen one and must make an overeducated guess.

"An author doesn't write because she must fulfill her inner self. She writes to tell a story that is bubbling up to be told. She no more needs to squeeze like hell than she will be able to keep up with the narrative overflowing.

"Style emerges as a function of repetition. Style comes with time over thousands of pages. My narratives are wide-ranging in setting and characterization, yet they share a common thread and a common lament, which is the death of nature. I think my deep personal disappointment over this phenomenon so unique to our time drives my fiction to situations many ‘normal’ people find troubling. I have little use for prescribed dosage of description, introspection, divorce or the true meaning of love. I favor a radical approach to pesky problems with violence and carnage and always with good manners and good taste. I think this may be what disturbs some of the more fundamentalist reviewers. I often find myself in trouble, just like back in school."

To give Wintner the benefit of the doubt, one might presume that the experiences he credits for his inspiration have more to do with the far-flung places he visits and the varieties of human character he encounters than with actual events he witnesses or acts that he performs. The setting of the novel Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing is a Mexican hotel. The characters include Antonio, an over-endowed pool boy with an active and profitable nightlife, and his mentally impaired brother Baldo, who has a penchant for whacking things with a machete and whose love for helpless animals gets him into big trouble. The plot includes the macabre death of a cruel sport-fisher, a stint in a stereotypical Mexican jail for the pool boy, and, after a wild ride for the reader, a happy ending.

The novel In a Sweet Magnolia Time takes place in South Carolina in the turbulent sixties and seems to set itself up as an examination of the effects of desegregation on a deeply entrenched southern culture rooted in racial inequality. The plot revolves around the death of a judge who had transformed himself into an "integrationist" and the effect that his conversion has upon others, particularly the young man who had been groomed to follow in the judge's footsteps. If serious critics approached the novel from this lofty perspective, they may have been disappointed. It isn't long before a theme of revenge and counter-revenge emerges, and the young protege Covingdale embarks on an interracial sexual romp that at least one critic found to be gratuitous in nature and detail. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented, however, that "Wintner ends up nicely illuminating a corner of a turbulent era."

Some critics, as Wintner hinted in his remarks to CA, may be "disturbed" by his "radical approach" to the workings of human nature, yet other readers seem to enjoy the exotic settings, escapist entertainment, wild plots, and extravagant behavior to be found in his novels. As a Publishers Weekly reviewer described Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing: "This book is best suited to being read, cocktail in hand, while a real-life Antonio wanders by."

Wintner later added: "I continue with the good fight on several key conservation issues, focusing on the aquarium industry now extracting eight million reef fish annually from Hawaii reefs."



Booklist, March 15, 1995, review of Hagan's Trial, and Other Stories.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing, p. 1263; September 15, 2005, review of In a Sweet Magnolia Time, p. 1001.

Publishers Weekly, August 29, 1994, review of Whirlaway, p. 62; February 20, 1995, review of Hagan's Trial, and Other Stories, p. 201; October 21, 2002, review of Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing, p. 55; September 12, 2005, review of In a Sweet Magnolia Time, p. 40.

San Francisco Books and Travel, spring, 2000, review of The Prophet Pasqual, p. 2.

Thunder Press, July, 2000, Terry Roorda, review of The Modern Outlaws.

Wilson Library Bulletin, January, 1995, Patty Campbell, review of Snorkel Bob's Reality Guide to Hawaii, pp. 102-103.


Snorkel Bob's: For Discriminating Snorkelers and Divers, (March 10, 2007).