Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book 39-The Tin Drum (56th book)

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass is one odd little book! I'm not saying that is a bad thing because I read the book pretty fast, but it is about the only description I can think of to describe what the book is like. I purchased this book from my local used bookstore for $3 and I'm glad that was all I paid. Although it is an intriguing and engaging read, I don't think I would read it again. It is a bizarre snapshot in time to pre-war Poland and Germany....but through the eyes of a midget who willed himself to stop growing at three. This is the first book I have reviewed for The Classics Club challenge that I signed up for last month.

The best thing about the book is it does extremely well with descriptions. There are several disturbing, but very vivid moments in the book. One of the most horrifying is when Oskar and his family comes across a fisher at the seaside. When he pulls in his bait it turns out to be a dead horses head which he is using to catch eels. The book describes in graphic detail how he reaches in various orifices to pull out eels, the most disturbing being and eel hauled out of the ear, with a bit of brain still in its mouth. Apparently this is fairly well known scene, because as I talked about this book at work, it was one of the first things that my co-worker remembered about the book.

The description of this book in 1001 Books to Read Before You Die actually made me appreciate this book slightly more. It talked about how this book was about Nazi Germany written through the eyes of an outcast from this society. It also talked about how the book used literary forms that were not condoned during that time: fairy tales, carnivalesque and harlequin (2010 Edition). That is definitely what this book is like. A few parts of it reminded me of Gravity's Rainbow which I didn't like. The more books off the list I read the more I realize that I am not a terribly great fan of fantastical literature. That strikes me as odd, because given what I know of my personality I would think it would be right up my alley. I guess when I read classical literature I want to do so for edification and I find a lot of the comic, fantastical literature tends to focus heavily on bitter revelations about the world, some of which I would support, others which I see as taken to far.

There were a few quotes in this book that I found interesting:

"Even bad books, are books and therefore sacred"

"Love knows no time of day, and hope is without end, and faith knows no limits"

"My presumptive father took so realistic a view of war that itw as hard, in fact impossible, for him to be brave"

"He who doubts, believes, and it is the unbeliever who believes the longest"

Since I finished this book so early in the month, I will have plenty of time to read books off of the 1001 Books list. I think I am even going to read Everything is Illuminated along with the 1001 Books club on Goodreads. I have had it on my shelf for awhile so it will be good timing.

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