Tia's Reviews > The Tin Drum

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
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's review
Apr 04, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: amongthebestiveread
Recommended for: Your [intellectual] inner beast.
Read in January, 2000

I had an intense reaction to this book. I friggin hated it. Or, rather, I loved to hate it, while I was reading it. It was an assignment in a Postmodern Lit. class, and everyone in the class liked the protagonist but me. I thought he was awful. I couldn't believe they enjoyed him, much less admitted to enjoying him. But some part of me must have understood.

...That was the point. This is a story I felt in my stomach. It was so full of perversion, of the grotesque, and I was 20 and a "good girl" and wanted so badly to not be drawn to it but there I was, ploughing through. Disgusted with so much along the way, but to my great surprise I found myself touched. I cried for a character I thought I was completely repelled by. I couldn't believe it. And at the end, when I reached the last page, when I finished and shut the book...I was grateful. Not to have finished it; I was grateful that I got to read it in the first place.

There are awful images and episodes that stick with me. It is not pleasant to revisit them. But you know what? With every bit of my smiley, idealistic being I say...Thank God. (Or, rather, Thank Grass.) There isn't always easy beauty, or recognizable beauty around us. Oftentimes the beauty is buried in dirt and hard-earned, and doesn't even look like anything lovely at all once you get to it. But you hold it in your hands and it will move you. And if you're lucky, it will change you.
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02/15 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I remember watching the movie with my father. I was a teenager (18? 19?). It was very awkward to watch such a disturbing film with him. I didn't love the movie. It made an impression on me, that's certain.

Ruth I agree, this is not an easy read. I saw the movie, which I loved, before I read the book. This is not the usual order of things with me, but in this case I think having seen the movie helped me in understanding the book.

message 3: by Ally (new)

Ally The brand new group - Bright Young Things - is nominating books to read in January & The Tin Drum is among them. Its the perfect place to discuss your favourite books and authors from the early 20th Century, why not take a look...


Arthur Wish I could have covered this in a group or a class. A book so absurdly psycho-sexual, it would have helped to have someone I could look over at and say, ' is THIS really what THAT means?' (dual-fathers/phallic drumsticks; constant quests for mothers/motherlands; eels in a horse's head).

All the post-modern junk was great. The "jazz" chapter was jaw-dropping. Oskar's care-taker's fixation with creating knots was a bit on the nose but interesting nonetheless. I heard a recent interview where Grass said all of his novels' subtext is unintended and, I THINK he said, non-existing.

I'm interested to hear what Tia's post-modern lit professor had to say about the author's intentions in this case!

Ruth Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Other times an author may not intend, but the words come out the way they do because of who the author is.

And because of who is reading it.

message 6: by Arthur (last edited Jan 30, 2010 11:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Arthur Grass has written much about the duality of his role in WWII. Certainly it's possible that Grass didn't initially intend for some of his words to be read the way that they were. But certainly, after re-reading his own writing in editing, Grass must have recognized how his inner symbols translated to the page. Specifically with regard to Oskar's two possible fathers, German and Polish, and Grass' conflicted role as a German soldier.

We have to remember, Freud died basically the same year that WWII began, so it's quite probable for Grass to have been familiar with Freud's writing.

It's nearly impossible to argue that Grass didn't know exactly what he was doing when he was writing that "jazz" chapter, and this, I think, should chip away at Grass' posture that his text has no intended subtext.

Perhaps he wrote the cigars as cigars only, initially. But 'initially' is the key qualifier in this case, I believe.

Ruth, re: "And because of who is reading it." <-- touche`

Sara Thank you. I'm inspired to keep slogging now!

Eliya Thank you for writing this review - it's pretty mych what I would say about this book, only you said it in such a beautiful way! :)

message 9: by Matej (new)

Matej Vidaković what do you mean by "awful images and episodes" ? I'm asking cause I want to read it someday in the future... :)

message 10: by matt (new) - rated it 3 stars

matt I love the way you explained your reactions to this book. I think I know what you mean- I felt similarly at a few points in the story.

We ought to read books we feel in our stomachs

Mrs Rosentreter Alright, i'll keep reading.

Steve Gregory My poor mama

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