Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Trade, 180 pages, 1998
Reason for Reading: I had to get my hands on the book that Tim Burton would be making into a movie.
Synopsis: Faced with the impending death of his father, William explores the larger-than-life tales his father has spun for his entire life, from his unusual childhood, to meeting the woman he will marry, to life on the road.
Why you should read this book: Wallace writes in a way that makes you want to believe the tall tales that make up the life of Edward Bloom – you’ll definitely find your heart beating out the rational part of your mind. Big Fish is a seemingly light read with a lot of depth to it – while it moves quickly, a lot of ground is covered, from an innocent boy admiring his father, through to looking at him on his death bed and pondering the man beyond the title of ‘father.’
Why you should avoid this book: There are times in the novel when you can’t help but feel slighted when Wallace refuses to give a straightforward look into Edward’s mind – but that, of course, is his son’s conundrum as well.
On one of our last car trips, near the end of my father’s life as a man, we stopped by a river, and we took a walk to its banks, where we sat in the shade of an old oak tree.
They say he never forgot a name or a face or your favorite color, and that by his twelfth year he knew everybody in his home town by the sound their shoes made when they walked.
They say he grew so tall so quickly that for a time – months? the better part of a year? – he was confined to his bed because the calcification of his bones could not keep up with his height’s ambition, so that when he tried to stand he was like a dangling vine and would fall to the floor in a heap.
Edward Bloom used his time wisely, reading. He read almost every book there was in Ashland. A thousand books – some say ten thousand. History, Art, Philosophy. Horatio Alger. It didn’t matter. He read them all. Even the telephone book.
So, still bleeding, and with one of his legs broken in two places, Edward found a broom and swept the store clean. Then he found a mop and a pail, for in his haste to do the right thing he had completely forgotten his open, profusely bleeding wounds, and didn’t realize until he had finished sweeping that he had left a trail of his own blood throughout the entire store. So he mopped. He scoured. He got on his knees with a rag and scrubbed as the old man, the wife, and child watched him. They were in awe. They were awestruck. They were watching a man trying to remove his own blood stains from a pine wood floor.
Also recommended: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger; Life of Pi by Yann Martel; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling.
Also by this author: Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician; Ray in Reverse; The Watermelon King.
Author’s website: danielwallace.org
Â© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007