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Cat and Mouse

(Die Danziger Trilogie #2)

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  5,253 ratings  ·  285 reviews
An alternate cover for this isbn can be found here.

To compensate for his unusually large Adam’s apple—source of both discomfort and distress—fourteen year old Joachim Mahlke turns himself into athlete and ace diver. Soon he is known to his peers and his nation as “The Great Mahlke”. But to his enemies, he remains a target. He is different and doomed in a country scarred by
Paperback, 191 pages
Published 1997 by Vintage (first published 1961)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
449. Katz und Maus = Cat And Mouse (Die Danziger Trilogie = Danzig Trilogy #2), Günter Grass

Cat and Mouse, published in Germany in 1961 as Katz und Maus, is a novella by Günter Grass, the second book of the Danzig Trilogy, and the sequel to The Tin Drum.

It is about Joachim Mahlke, an alienated only child without a father. The narrator Pilenz "alone could be termed his friend, if it were possible to be friends with Mahlke" (p. 78); much of Pilenz's narration addresses Mahlke directly by means of
Oh, I wonder!

Filled with motivation to read my way through Günter Grass until summer, I started by rereading this novella which sits nicely between Tin Drum and Dog Years, accessible and direct in its approach to a youth spent under the spell of Hitler.

And like the 3-year-old drummer, who has unexplained cameo appearances in the story, drumming up tension at crucial points without indicating his role as the master of another Grass novel, I feel that dark time and the place hover over me like a d
Jim Fonseca
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book by the German author who won the 1999 Nobel prize, best known for his novel The Tin Drum. The story is set during World War II in Danzig, a free city on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Germany until the Nazis took it over. Today it’s Gdansk, Poland.

There are two main characters, two boys of early high school age, the only two Catholics who hang out with a group of ten or so Lutheran boys and occasionally girls. In summer they swim out daily to their hangout – a half sunken Polish minesw
Michael Finocchiaro
The brutal account of these kids in Danzig/Gdansk during the Hitler youth and the war is both chilling and poignant. It is the second volume of Grass' Danzig trilogy after The Tin Drummer and a fast but furious read. The characters are both repulsive and compelling and ow that we know that Grass was in the Hitler youth when he was 16, it is obviously a pretty damn accurate portrayal (better than the kid in All the Light We Cannot See in any case! I have to believe that Doer read this book and de ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, war, classic, german
Cat and Mouse is an oddly complex story and as is the case with most of Grass' books, it carries deep and oftentimes troubling themes about the war, but it's a very gripping and interesting book all the same with well-developed characters and a unique plot. Because it wasn't originally written in English I felt like the writing seemed a bit off, as though something were lost in translation, but it was worth it to be able to read it as it's a very unique novel in its own right.
Robert Beveridge
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
I first read Cat and Mouse without the benefit of having read The Tin Drum beforehand, and I missed a lot. Cat and Mouse is the second book in Grass' Danzig Trilogy, three books that look at life in Danzig under the Nazi regime from three different points of view (the tales are told concurrently, and time can be fixed by seeing the same event from different points of view; for example, the picnic taken by the jazz trio and Schmuh in Book III of The Tin Drum shows up towards the end of Cat and Mo ...more
Its a simple enough story of a boy, Mahlke, who grows up in Danzing and goes to WWII. But the book is full of complexities, analogies and frequent shifts in the point of the narrator view.
Mahlke's appearance is a bit of a joke and he has some odd characteristics. The story (I think) is how he (and others) are the hunted to a hungry uncaring society.
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritism, germania
I honestly don't know how anyone could give this less than 5 stars. (Taste being subjective, I understand that we like what we like.) It's flawless, without an ounce of fat on it. After finishing The Tin Drum yesterday, I started Cat and Mouse this morning. Having had the chance to finish it this evening, I'm still sitting here, some hours later, floored by it. Achingly beautiful and haunting. If you're looking for The Tin Drum II, this isn't it. Better yet: it's an entirely different animal wit ...more
Ostensibly set in the same world as The Tin Drum, although the little boy with the drum and the piercing shrieks barely makes an appearance. Really, it is more the story of an adolescence in the shadow of the Nazi regime, and how the regime shapes what would be an otherwise unremarkable teenage boy's life of hanging out at the beach and exploring old shipwrecks. Beautifully told, grotesquely real, and closer to Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea in tone than anything else.
I was disappointed in this second book of the trilogy. It was short, which is what I loved. And sadly, it was the only thing I loved about it.

As with the first, this book is about the coming of age tale of a boy. In this case, the story was told by his best friend. It wasn't a horrible tale at all. The concept was brilliant, I thought, however, the execution fell flat. I just didn't care about the characters as I did in the first book. And it didn't help that I found this book boring for most o
Tanuj Solanki
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, favorites, german
Overshadowed, in literary discourse, by The Tin Drum. Exceptional three and half hour indulgence. 'The Baltic the colour of thick-glass seltzer bottles,' he says. 'Rain is a binder,' he says. 'I, Pilenz - what has my first name got to do with it - formerly an altar boy dreaming of every imaginable future, now the parish hall secretary, just can't let magic alone,' he says.
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ll
If you've only read The Tin Drum, and you're looking for more Gunter Grass to read, this is the book for you. It's short and straightforward and quietly devastating.

Beautiful and heartbreaking, this is a story about two school friends, taking place in Germany during World War II.

Pilenz is one of a crowd of teenaged boys who like to hang out together at the beach, occasionally swimming out together to a partially submerged Polish minesweeper. Mahlke is just a kid who wants to belong.

But Mahlke
Kopinjol Baishya
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
If Germans were the ones known for magical realism, I think Cat and Mouse would kind of define the genre--dead pan, literal, and packed with tall tale-ish exageration more than pure and unbelievable magic.

This is a story of two boys going about the very personal business of being boys, amidst the great geopolitical upheaval of their time. While their lives at times intersect with BIG history, it is the personal revolutions, ups and downs that define the narrative and motivate the characters.

Regina Andreassen
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing

A fantastic book, I read it in one night, I couldn't help it if was so engaging and clever! I will read it again soon. Cat and Mouse is the second book of a trilogy but I still haven't read the other book..are now in my 'to-read' list.

Ben Edwards
“Perhaps if I rubbed my typewriter superficially with onion juice, it might communicate an intimation of the onion smell which in those years contaminated Germany, West Prussia and Langfuhr, Osterzeile as well as Westerzeile, preventing the smell of corpses from taking over completely”

Enjoyed this little book quite a lot. It’s classic Günter Grass in the way it drops you into a situation and doesn’t do much to signpost the movement of the narrative. But that’s part of the appeal as it moves alon
Alex Cole
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a book as good as The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) in Grass' arsenal, you won't find it. Cat and Mouse (Katze und Maus), while lacking the scope and depth of Grass' first novel, makes up for it in intimacy and pathos. Cat and Mouse's plot is focused on two young boys, Mahlke & Pilenz, living in war-era Danzig. Mahlke is an unusual young boy, who dreams of glory in the Nazi military. Pilnenz is an altar boy who, enraptured by Mahlke, accompanies the young man on his odd excur ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is the kind of book that has a very specific flavor. I remember reading The Tin Drum years ago and, at the time, I liked it a lot, so I was very looking forward to reading this one. Unfortunately, although it has Gunter Grass written all over it and the storytelling is very attractive, I just couldn't relate to the book in any way.

The story is about a young boy who gets very good at swimming, is very well respected by his friends, is rather ugly and, well, has really great sexual performanc
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel
I just love coming to age books. One of liked before his onw, was Mishima Yukio The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. That one is written ina very sublime way.
This isnt as up there as "The sailor" but it's so so good. It's quite an introduction to Günter Grass work.
I really got triggered and want to read the rest of the triology. The translation could be beter, but hey: it's Europa América, baby!
Read it, well worth the time.
Feb 21, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in German and I simply do not like it. I did not like the writing style: I was always re-reading sentences, trying to match the parts that belonged together. I have nothing against long sentences, but I do hate the 'Klammerkonstruktion', which is used a lot. And seriously, how much can you obsess over one man's adamsappel? I kept waiting for the story to lead to something, but sadly, it did not build to anything. There did not seem to be a point to the whole story.
I know Günter
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This author captures my imagination like few others, fueled in part by my fascination of what (the hell) really happened in Germany that enabled the rise of 1930s Nazism in a modern European state. This little novel could have been a chapter in The Tin Drum, as its plot runs parallel and the little drummer brat even makes several cameo appearances. But compared to that Nobel prizewinning tome, this had a tight little poignant plot. The “great Mahlke”, so dubbed by a fairly unreliable narrator, i ...more
Book Wormy
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-read, 2019-read
I gave this 4 stars. I think there is a lot of it I don't understand but what I did (or think I did) understand was beautifully crafted. Having researched more about Grass after reading this it has become clear that this is a largely autobiographical novel, there are too many similarities between the author and the narrator for that not to be the case.

This is the 2nd book in the Danzig trilogy and I love the way the protagonist from The Tin Drum turns up at seemingly random points throughout the
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though I remember liking Grass at university, I hadn't touched any of his books since and was almost a little apprehensive. I need not have been! While the style took some getting used to this is and remains an excellent portrait of German adolescents. The fact that the story takes place during the war provides a rather sinister context, which only becomes apparent slowly during the course of the book, as you begin to realise that the narrator is hiding something, and something rather serio ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book because I became fascinated by the city of Danzig (today known as Gdańsk, Poland)when looking through some old papers my mother sent me and learning my great-great grandmother met my great-great grandfather met there (both ethnic Germans). This led me through a vast array of wikipedia articles, and the history of this place on the Baltic Coast is turbulent and fascinating. I have much to learn.

Admittedly, I prefer novels that evoke a sense of place over nonfiction history b
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
If this book had been published in our modern era, it would have been released as a YA title, since it is set in an elite high school, in German-occupied Poland during WW2. It shows a different side of the war, where the war is relatively far off, intruding into the lives of the boys in the story through sunken military vessels and worries about volunteering for military training and the constant possibility of losing a loved one who is off fighting. The story is tense, but the boys and their te ...more
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics

This book reminds me a little of the Great Gatsby, only i liked it better. It has the same neutral, absent narrator who talks to us about this man he knew: Joachim Mahlke. Mahlke is mysterious, a little weird, but none-the-less someone the narrator looks up to: the great Mahlke. (And this is not me inventing that nickname, it is actually used in the book).

The story takes place in Danzig, currently known as the Polish city Gdansk, during the early 1940s. It is however not your normal war-book; t
Jul 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novel
This is the middle book in Grass' Weimar trilogy, and as such, it is an unusual middle child. It does not suffer from the neglect the middle usually receives, because it is a different type of book, and stands alone. Nowhere as magical as The Tin Drum, it is still a story that has an other-worldly quality to it, because the principal characters are schoolboys growing in Weimar Germany. Joachim Mahlke, the main character, dives for artifacts from a half-sunken minesweeper. His greatest treasure, ...more
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
There is a great deal going on in this work for it being such a small book. Wistful, emotionally-gripping, vividly described, no excessive ornamentation, this book is a wonderful little gem. It is a strange one, but delightfully so. I chewed right through it; I couldn't put it down. After how much I liked this one, I'll definitely be checking out some other Grass.
carl  theaker
A remembrance of Grass' mid-teen years through a friend, Joachim Mahlke.
Grass' usual effective, nostalgic look at kids growing up, in this
case WWII Germany, doing all the things young boys do everywhere,
memorizing statistics of airplanes and battleships, having secret hiding
places, enduring routines, and going off to war.
Jerry Pogan
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gunter Grass is not the easiest writer to read. There is a lot there and you really have to concentrate as you read, you definitely cannot lightly skim through or you will miss to much. This is the story about a young boy and his friend who hang out at the beach and swim out to a submerged submarine during life in Nazi Germany. Grass is a writer you either love or hate.
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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)

Other books in the series

Die Danziger Trilogie (3 books)
  • The Tin Drum
  • Dog Years

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“Mahlke couldn't joke. He sometimes tried. But everything he did, touched or said, became solemn, significant, monumental;” 4 likes
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