Friday, August 06, 2010


Title: Big Fish
Author: Daniel Wallace
Bookmark: Hard to say. Finished it a month or two ago somewhere above the western states.

I've forgotten the names of all the characters, but as with all fairy tales, the general story and important details are still lodged firmly in my brain. That's probably the most important aspect of the book: not that it's a story about a son trying to find a place in his father's life, or a father trying to be a "big fish in a big pond," or about a father slowly dying (though it is also all of those things), but a fairy tale. Maybe.

The son has grown up with stories of his father's life. Tall tales and spun yarns about how the father could talk to animals, or how every woman wanted him, or how he tamed a giant, or saved a water nymph, or escaped his seemingly mythical birthplace by passing through a shadowy duplicate of the same town, populated with those who tried to leave before him, broken dreams, and a mysterious, vicious dog. It is a story of the father's life, told by the son as a series of stories his father had told him, and since the one thing his father always wanted to be was important, a man of great impact, a "big fish in a small pond," there is some question as to the reliability of this second-hand narrative of his life. Did he really offer himself to a giant to be eaten? Did he really buy an entire town? Did he really have a second wife there, rescued from a pristine home in the swamp and... maybe... who brought the swamp with her?

It doesn't really matter. Maybe it's more a story of how children always see their parents as mythical, mysterious, powerful beings. Maybe the father in this story really is. Maybe his son, seeing his father slowly dying, just needs to believe in a power that seems to have left him.

Maybe, as the ending reveals, that power is still there.

Labels: , , ,

posted by reyn at 12:44 PM


Post a Comment