Michelle's Reviews > The Tin Drum

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
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Nov 27, 11


The Tin Drum has some of the most genius, most absurdly funny writing I've ever read. But that's part of the problem.

Funny books. I don't often like them. So often the text of the novel is drowned out by the author's smug little voice-over saying "aren't I clever? Isn't this the wittiest thing you've ever read?"

Set in Poland during the Nazi occupation, The Tin Drum revolves around Oscar, who receives a drum at the age of three, and who vows never to grow up. But really, he has an unusual condition which stops him from physically growing taller i.e. he is a midget, also gifted with the ability to 'singshatter' glass from the panes of windows with his piercing shriek. This is just one example of the absurdity that ensues.

The book meanders through endless tall, hilarious tales of Oscar's hijinks, and some extremely memorable characters and ridiculous scenarios will be forever imprinted in my memory.

The Tin Drum's humor blackens as members of Oscar's family are murdered and abused by the Nazis. At times I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, when some of the most horrific events are gilt with a syncopated buffoonery - I was sometimes reminded of that Italian film 'Life is Beautiful' where the father tries to make light of his family's plight in a Nazi concentration camp, in order to survive - mentally.

Overall, The Tin Drum is a bit of a tedious read. The book is more a series of vignettes than one narrative, which made me wonder whether I should bother finishing it at all. And it's very clever. A bit too clever. Did I mention Gunter Grass got the Nobel prize for literature?
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Luke (new)

Luke Echo Nice review. I hate funny books too.


message 2: by Rob (new)

Rob Walter I agree it's a great review. I actually love funny, clever books, so you're selling it to me even as you say you didn't like it. That's got to be the sign of a good review.


Michelle But i loved Cold Comfort Farm, which is a funny book. Why is that funny different from this funny I wonder?


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