A whale of energy and ambition and playfulness and dullness and
miscellany. A Grimm's fairytale - "The Fisherman's Wife" - inflated
to bursting, the exploded pieces mixed in with such considerations
as Freud's "What do women want?" and a "history of human
nutrition." A football team of book, swarming everywhere. The
narrator, so goes the central premise, has lived in every age, with
a female at his side to cook for him and thus - with what she
provides for his belly - she influences the course of civilization
in one small section of Pomerania. As a Stone Age fisherman fishing
on the banks of the Vistula, the narrator-Man - stands on the shore
and has a flounder jump from the water into his arms; the fish
begins to speak. If the fisherman spares him, the flounder will
counsel men through the ages on how to break the thralldom they
live in (in the Stone Age men are suckled by three-breasted women
and kept totally passive). The flounder is spared, advice is
regularly dispensed; but the men make a muck of it, turning
initiative into aggressiveness, war, and pain. Distraught, the
flounder waits until the 1970s, now jumps into a boat full of
women's-libbers, and throws himself upon their mercy. They bring
him up before a special Women's Tribunal for his crimes.
Rabelaisian, political, historical, fantastical, fable-like: Grass
lets his book be all of these. The stamina is exhilarating but a
little daunting; though Ralph Manheim has done a medallion job of
translation, the bulk and density can drown you. To Grass' credit,
however, he's thrown himself totally into this novel (as he hasn't
done in a while). Ambitious readers can plunge into this Hood-like
phantasmagoria of the battle-of-the-sexes; all readers can stand on
the shore and admire some of Grass' inventive ripples. (Kirkus
Gunter Grass, says The Times, 'is on his own as an artist', and
indeed this extraordinary, provoking and joyously Rabelaisian
celebration of life, food and sex is unique. Lifted from their
ancient fairytale, the fisherman and his wife are still living
today. During the months of Ilsebill's pregnancy, the fisherman
tells her of his adventures through time with the Flounder,
constituting a complete reworking of social, political and
|Country of origin:
||198 x 129 x 34mm (L x W x T)
||Paperback - B-format
General & literary fiction >
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