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Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace

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“He could outrun anybody, and he never missed a day of school. He saved lives, tamed giants. Animals loved him. People loved him. Women loved him (and he loved them back). And he knew more jokes than any man alive.

Now, as he lies dying, Edward Bloom can’t seem to stop telling jokes–or the tall tales that have made him, in his son’s eyes, an extraordinary man. Big Fish is the story of this man’s life, told as a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts his son, William, knows. Through these tales–hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous–William begins to understand his elusive father’s great feats, and his great failings.”

Just for fun, the display image I have for the book is from when I first purchased it. Now, I will show you what this baby looked like after I read it:

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I’m a note taker, what can I say? 🙂

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My Review:

The way this novel is told in a series of myths and legends about Edward Bloom’s life really sucked me in. It’s fun in the way that you read the Grimm’s fairy tales, or you read about King Arthur and his court. It’s fun in a way I didn’t expect. And the jokes that Edward tells are so bland and plain, but in their simplicity I can’t help but laugh at an old man trying to crack jokes and make people smile while on his death bed. And those were a few of the wonderful elements of this book that had me reading past the point where I was perhaps, a little bit bored.

The crazy part of this, is the fact that William’s emotions come right off the pages while he is telling his fathers many legends. You can tell, as your reading this re-telling of a story his father once told him, that William truly understands his father, perhaps more subconsciously than he does on the surface. And the belly of the truth about his father, is that despite he loves him unconditionally and that no matter what his father is always going to hold a mythic gleam in his memory, his father was also just a flawed and fragile human being like anyone else. He is kind, giving, hilarious, good-spirited for the most part, charming, inviting and full of life. At least, that’s what everyone else see’s.

William and his mother see the darker part of Edward’s soul, the part that isn’t quite satisfied with anything in any amount ever. Just to fill his need for bigger, better, more, he purchases an entire town, which he visits often, leaving his son and wife behind. He call’s these excursions, part of his job as a traveling salesman. Whether he actually does business when he is visiting the town he’d purchased isn’t quite clear. What is clear, however, is the young woman he falls in love with and who waits for him to return, much like his wife and son. This is where Edward began to anger me.

I wanted to put the book down at times, because I could feel, as if Edward was my father, the rejection. In fact, I even notated my feelings page per page. One sticky note says, “Despite his success, no one seems happy.” This is a line from the book, just before Edward purchases the small town. The family he has made with his wife doesn’t behave as a family and there is talk of divorce. But they push through these hard times, together. Not even two pages later, Edward is falling in love with a town.  After purchasing the town, he talks with one of the business owners there and says to him, “It is very difficult for a man such as myself to settle for a piece of something. If part of something is good, the whole of it can only be better. And as far as Spector is concerned, this is certainly the case. To have it all–.”

The sticky note on that pages says, “But his family wasn’t enough…”

It’s clear that this book is really just portraying how children feel about their parents. For example, when I was younger I thought that one of my parents had to be from another planet. It was my mom, I’ll just say it. She ate weird stuff, she could whistle so loud it could make your ears ring when you were halfway down the street. And she could walk on anything. After spending most of her life walking around barefoot every chance she got, she had pretty tough feet. So she’d run on the black pavement of the road where I grew up, never hissing or crying out when she stepped on a large piece of dislodged road. I remember trying to get my feet as tough as hers and quickly gave up because I liked my soft feet, darn it! And after years of doing Yoga and Pilates on a daily basis, my mother was flexible, like superhuman flexible. She could do the splits, stand on her head and do the splits. Even though I do Yoga myself, there is just something about the splits that I have never gotten over. Alas, I still cannot do the splits. My mother, even now as I am a grown adult, is a world wonder in my mind.

All in all, this book was excellent because it does exactly what the best books do. It brings out emotion from the reader, me, and elicits a reaction. My reaction was anger, disbelief, and doubt. I doubted Edward and what a good man he truly was. Does a good man leave his wife and child at home because he selfishly wants to see the world? And then I wonder, we only have one life, isn’t it our right to do what we please with it? Aside from all the societal and moral expectations of our youth, should we not follow the path that fulfills our lifelong desires and needs?

This book really got me thinking. In the end, when William accepts his father, because he couldn’t not, I accepted Edward. It was as if William and me as the reader just fuzed brains from start to finish in this novel. It was a wonderful experience.  I would definitely recommend.


 

Oh yeah, and this happened:

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I haven’t even counted them or read all of the titles. This was in a random purchase made my my fiance. I’ve been saying for years that I wanted to try and read one of Janet Evanovich’s novels, but I just never got around to making the purchase. Well, much to my surprise, my love decided to purchase six boxes of used books the other day. That TBR pile, I believe had also hit mythic proportions.

Until next time guys!

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