Victoria's Reviews > Mein Jahrhundert

Mein Jahrhundert by Günter Grass
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's review
Mar 10, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: germanlanguage
Read from February 10 to March 09, 2010 — I own a copy

** spoiler alert ** This book was ultimately very okay, which is less than I expected from a Nobel Prize winner. The book is a series of 3-4 page 100 short stories in which Grass, who lived for a majority of the 20th century, tells the tale of Germany throughout the period. It is not that the book isn't interesting, but it is perhaps that Grass uses certain tricks too much. For the first 25 or so years, the stories are fascinating. After that, his trick of planting you in the middle of a story where you have to locate yourself gets very old, particularly since one has to do it roughly 70 times. As well, I didn't like how he avoided some topics. Grass engages WWI and WWII only second-handedly, told through writers and journalists looking back on the period. The Holocaust, for example, is handled only by a photographer who is angry that one of his photos at the emancipation of one of the camps was never paid for. This could be compelling if it had a point. Grass never really seems to make one, however, except that perhaps time marches past certain events (which is swiftly negated by his extensive coverage of some arbitrary events). I wish he had dealt with a few of the major events with seriousness, even if he wished to use such a trick for others. Also, I do think that the book can be a little too self-centered on Grass. That is not to say that Grass should have removed autobiographical elements, but many parts of the book are puzzles that are unintelligble to the average reader (such as understanding Grass's references to "Willy" in later chapters) and may render the book dated very quickly. Ultimately, I found a lot of the book to be too heavy-handed and gimmicky. That said, it was still an interesting read to talk about modern German history, especially if one were already familiar with most of the major historical events.

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Reading Progress

03/04/2010 page 253

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