Keith's Reviews > The Tin Drum

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
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Dec 14, 2011

it was amazing

Another lifetime ago, while completing my youthful obligatory tour of Europe, I met a young woman who told me of being attacked and injured by a madman who was exiting the Paris metro. I now realize that the man was probably Oskar Matzerth. Oskar is the drummer in the Tin Drum. As the novel opens Oskar introduces himself as an inmate in a mental hospital in Danzig, or is it Düsseldorf? It’s hard to say as Oskar moves around a lot, as do the towns, cities and events in the Tin Drum. Or does Oskar move at all? Oskar describes himself as a three foot, one inch dwarf with a hunchback that fell down the cellar steps at age three and decided to stop growing. He also decided to communicate with the world by beating out a rhythmic language on a toy tin drum, given to him by his mother to stop him from screaming and exploiting his talent for shattering glass with his scream. In this truly wonderful and astounding novel, Oskar tells the story of Germany through a pantheon of characters that make up his family and friends. The meticulous detail of events rolls forth as if from the mouth of---of a madman. Most of the events must be allegory---I think. The historical analogies and mythical references require a glossary to keep up (which this translation contains) but they flow smoothly and poetically. Humor, pathos, tragedy; Oskar’s story has it all but it’s not an easy book to read, just as it is not an easy book to stop reading. Did any of this happen to Oskar? Is Oskar a real person or is he a fiction of the German gestalt leading up to a horrifying war? Is Oskar insane or is the world insane? This book is a challenge but one that shouldn’t be denied. Anyway, the woman in Paris said she was attacked by a little man who was raving at the world before he struck her and in The Tin Drum the little drummer tells us he was arrested at the Maison Blanche metro stop in Paris before he was committed. Go figure.
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message 1: by DWGibb (new)

DWGibb Your review piques my interest while cautioning me to "enter at my own risk."


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