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The Box: Tales from the Darkroom (Autobiografical Trilogy #2)

3.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  378 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews

“Once upon a time there was a father who, because he had grown old, called together his sons and daughters—four, five, six, eight in number—and finally convinced them, after long hesitation, to do as he wished. Now they are sitting around a table and begin to talk . ..”

In an audacious literary experiment, Günter Grass writes in the voices of his eight children as they rec

Audio CD, 6 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2008)
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Steve Petherbridge
Not the best Günter Grass novel. In the blurb it is described as a work of fiction, but, seems to be a record of his eight children as they recall their complex childhood. Perhaps, this allows Mr. Grass to exercise a degree of censorship! Am I being cynical? Maybe. Let's just say that Mr Grass fulfilled the instinct of nature and dispersed his seed widely, entering into numerous relationships resulting in the eight children. The structure of the book is original and can be entertaining.

This is
Apr 10, 2016 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knowing of Glass through the classic film adaptation of THE TIN DRUM only by reputation, this is admittedly an odd introduction to his literary body of work - the second installment in his current series of metafictional memoirs. Thankfully, I found it accessible and delightful after a fashion, and felt rewarded in working through several of its challenges.

Besides my non-familiarity with Grass's ouvre, the foremost barrier I encountered was the style of this novel, related entirely anecdotally b
Mar 06, 2016 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It could have been a much better book with consistent revelation. Too trailer-y.
Daisy Wallis
Jan 12, 2015 Daisy Wallis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book from my English teacher in preparation for a essay competition I am competing in. At first, I was sceptical as I had never read anything quite like this and wasn't sure I would enjoy it. However, after getting used to the unique voice/s of the novel, I really enjoyed the book and didn't want to put it down. I especially loved the interesting use of form and structure within the individual chapters and the comments made by the Father character at the end of each chapter. By ...more
Mar 23, 2015 Deborah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite, yet the book provides insight into the personal world of the Grass family, with its unorthodox permutations, hinting at the benefits and difficulties inherent in multiple step-parents and step-siblings through the lens of the Hasselblad, Leica, or the Agfa box.

Agfa introduced the six-by-nine format that was later picked up by Zeiss-Ikon's Tengor and Eho's so-called People's Camera. The Agfa box was the first camera bought by ordinary Germans, when its slogan Get more out of life
Aug 07, 2015 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book=so not my thing, really. Unfortunately, I've never got around to reading ol' G. Grass and this, my first, left me way unimpressed, but I'm reasonably sure this experimental look back on his life/"novel" isn't how all his books are. SO anyway, if you dig experimental fiction and whimsical puzzles of characters jabbering, this is right up your alley. It's kind of an existential soap opera, just this side of magical realism, that all takes place around the dinner table, only less exciting ...more
Friederike Knabe
Dec 13, 2010 Friederike Knabe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit
“Once upon a time a father, because he was getting old, gathered his children...”

Thus opens Günter Grass's venture into the genre of quasi-memoir. Imaginatively blending family chronicle with fairy tale, Grass moves constantly along the fine line between the real and the magical worlds. Taking the innovative approach of imagining his life being "critically assessed" from his children's perspectives, he is free to reveal some intimate insights into his private life, his work in progress, and his
Linh Hoang
Mar 24, 2011 Linh Hoang rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advisory
This book is the story of a man and his life told through the perspective of his eight children. The children are all grown up now and they gather every week to discuss their past and share things never shared before. They talk about the secrets only a few were able to see and experience. Mostly, they talk about a Magic Box.

This book emphasizes the importance of dreams and wishes. The author wants the reader to learn that dreams and wishes can come true. I thought this was a very nice lesson and
Kris McCracken
I like a lot of Günter Grass's novels very much. Indeed, some of them rank among my absolute favourites. However, I do find Grass the public figure a little bit tiresome, so it was with some trepidation that I began reading the autobiographical The Box. Tracking his life from the early-1960s to the early-1990s, Grass (with some creative sleight of hand) reconstructs events using the memories and viewpoints of his eight children – across a number of mothers – to give insight into his life.

It’s a
Mar 18, 2011 J.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The copyright page lists it as fiction, though the book is clearly a mix of fact and fiction with a bit of fantasy thrown in for good measure.

How could it be Gunter Grass otherwise? The man has always had a knack for skillfully blending. The Box was advertised as a sequel to the earlier Peeling The Onion, which was more straight-on autobiography. This briefer volume is an altogether different creature.

That is not to say it lacks charm. Could it be Grass otherwise?

Here the maestro is examined thr
Chad Post
I like the premise of this book: All 8 of Gunter Grass's kids sit around in various locations and arrangements talking about their childhood and their father. They also spend a lot of time talking about Marie, Grass's close companion who was always around taking pictures with her Agfa camera. The thing about Marie's pictures though--as repeated ad infinitum until I nearly puked in my brain--is that when developed, the pictures showed images from the past, the future, dreams, wishes, etc. Fine, w ...more
Bill Forbes
Aug 05, 2013 Bill Forbes rated it really liked it
We listened to the audio book during our road trip to San Francisco. It is an autobiography, written as a fanciful transcription of recordings of Guenter Grass's 8 grown children (by 4 women) discussing their memories of their father. The central theme of the book is the photographs taken with an Agfa box camera by "Mariechen" - a family friend. Mariechen's snapshots magically show the scenes she photographs as they would have appeared according to the subjects' secret desires. This bit of hocus ...more
Mar 23, 2015 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if you're interested in this author
Recommended to Debbie by: i saw i could download it on my phone. never done that before from library
The idea was great. the author invites his children to reminisce about him. he has a lot of children and it is kind of a way for him to combine their lives into his life.
Unfortunately, I didn't find their anecdotes very interesting. they refer a lot to his book about the flounder that i have wanted to read and picked up at times without getting very far. no longer sure i am interested in reading it.
May 25, 2011 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Един баща, който умее да разказва различни истории, но не умеел да поиграе с осемте си деца (искащи един ден да станат ездачи на облаци), ги събира години по-късно в различни конфигурации и записва спомените им. На тези срещи връщат лентата назад, искат да са пак деца и нареждат като пъзел живота му, отношенията му с тях и с четирите му силни жени, рисуването, писането на книги, политическата му дейност, пътуванията и лутанията между няколкото му семейства.
Неизменно до него е Марихен със старат
Oct 14, 2011 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, memoir
This was a lot more interesting than The Flounder which, for all its heft, believe me,
although I did read it, today I cannot remember what was even about, the plot, or even a significant character (beyond, The Flounder.) So that being said, THIS book is actually pretty interesting. A camera has been assigned magical powers- the ability to put to film the past, present, or future. Through the means of his children's reminiscing, Grass explores the wonderful relationships his family had with thei
Rudiran Messias
História fantástica e escrita com genialidade. De início é difícil acompanhar quais falas pertencem a quais personagens. E tem um componente de fantástico que exige do leitor que embarque na loucura do autor de abrir mão do verossímel na construção de um universo próprio. Günther Grass esboça e constrói esse universo com todas as dimensões e maestralmente. Há momentos em que parece que estamos chapados pela leitura. Exige uma postura ativa do leitor.
Apr 06, 2011 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I picture this book as an exercise by the writer to show a writing style without worrying about putting a compelling story around it. I listened to this on audio, and found myself listening to and enjoying sentences, and sometimes paragraphs, but not liking more extended listening. The story, as much as there was, was very repetitive --- you know the box has magical powers as you were reminded of it literally a hundred times. Another book that I believe started wth a similar odd state of affairs ...more
Zöe Yu
Mar 03, 2012 Zöe Yu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german
This book contains my favorite quote. "When people asked you What do you want to be When you grow up? you said, A cloud pusher."

A cloud pusher. I like the way the English translator keeps the initial capitalized. Makes it a bit German.

I felt a bit old smell in it. When one turns old, one begins to sag into deep regression, in the past. And in children's mouths, it feels like a bit narcissistic. Günter is too old, he still writes for the past, as people expected to.

Another thing I feel a bit d
Jan 23, 2016 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really a superb book by any stretch. There are interesting elements of magic realism and thoughts on the emptiness of post-war Germany, but the characters lack voice and I'm not sure this wasn't an exercise in complete egoism.
Mario Grella
Beh se ci avessi pensato prima avrei scritto anch'io la storia fotografica della mia famiglia, solo che non avevo la macchina fotografica (e nemmeno quella da scrivere)
Andrés Laverde Ortiz
La caja de los deseos, para alguien como yo, que no ha leído antes ninguna otra obra de Günter Grass, es mucho más que una historia familiar. Es una sorprendente fabula para la que ciertos protagonistas humanos prestan sus voces y cuerpos, solo para recrear el mundillo surrealista, aunque muchas veces posible, que solo puede ser visto a través de la -desde ya- legendaria cámara de fotos de "la vieja Marie" la Agfa-Box Spezial.

Grass narra, tomando prestadas las voces, temores y deseos de sus hijo
Editorial Alfaguara
A simple vista no es ms que una cmara de cajn anticuada como las que se regalaban a los adolescentes por su cumpleaos. Pero desde que sobreviviera a la guerra y los incendios en Berln, la cmara de Marie ha adquirido la capacidad de fotografiar hacia delante y hacia atrs: muestra lo que suceder en el futuro y lo que ha tenido lugar en el pasado. Por ello su amigo, el escritor, a la bsqueda de temas para sus libros, le pide: Dispara, Mariechen!, y ella cumple su deseo. Aos despus, los ocho hijos d ...more
So this book is about Grass's life (well, part of it) as seen through the lens of his eight children, who, I might add, are from four different women. I think that says more about Grass than any fictional thing his children say in this book.

His prose is wonderful, but he can't seem to write different voices for his children. They all come out sounding the same.

Clever idea having the old Agfa box camera take pictures that show wishes and the potential future, but it led to a lot of asides and tan
I rated and reviewed this book on LibraryThing:
Jan 14, 2011 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think there's a reason why you don't see more books written like real continuous conversations. Creative, yes - a little dull - yes. I loved the concept of the box (a camera that turns ordinary shots into pictures of the past, future, or the subject's imagination - as remembered by the 8 children who grew up with the photographer as a family companion), I just didn't care for the delivery. I don't know anything about Gunter Grass... I'm assuming the father in the book is him. An interesting ch ...more
Feb 16, 2014 Jeane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germany, planned-2014
It might be bacause this wa a sequel but you can read it on its own, that I am not rally sure what to think about it. I love the cover of my book and that together with the fact that I always wanted to read someting by Gunter Grass, made me buy this book last year.
In this book eight children are asked by their father to tell about their past, their memories. It isn,t really bad and in some way nice, but I just kept reading to finish it and didn't feel any connection with the story.
Tunde Oyebode
I heard good things about Günter grass. I heard wonderful things. But this book hasn't corroborated these things. The premise is a brilliant and interesting one, but the way it's told failed to keep me hooked. I hardly never finish books, especially short ones, but this one I didn't finish reading. I gave it three stars earlier, but now after three weeks since I last read it I have to say I was too generous. I will change it to two.
Nov 20, 2010 Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Second installment of Grass’s autobiography. Fictionalized conversations among his eight children centering around Grass's photographer, Marie, whose cheap Agfa “Box” camera captured not just what was visible, but what the children were wishing and dreading, as well as scenes from the distant (even prehistoric) past and the distant (apocalyptic) future, including surreal cameos by the family members themselves. Brilliant and moving.
Nolan Finkelstein
This book was ... interesting; I can't decide if I liked it or not. It was very confusing at points and I rarely knew who was speaking at what time (as there were very few cues), but overall it kept me engrossed and I was able to sit and read it quite quickly. I feel as though if I were more familiar with Grass's works this book would have made more sense. Nonetheless, a nice, short read. 3 stars!
At the request of their 80-year old father, eight children by four different woman gather in various combinations over the course of several months to exchange often conflicting childhood memories. A magical camera that sees the past and the future helps divert our attention from the inherent sadness of this semi-autobiography of a man who consistently put his work ahead of his children.
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Günter Wilhelm Grass was a Nobel Prize-winning German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor.
He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). Since 1945, he lived in West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returned to the Danzig of his childhood. He always identified himself as a Kashubian.

He is best known for his first novel, "The Tin Drum" (1959)
More about Günter Grass...

Other Books in the Series

Autobiografical Trilogy (3 books)
  • Peeling the Onion
  • Grimms Wörter. Eine Liebeserklärung

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