The Tin Drum deals with the rise of Nazism and with the war experience in the unique cultural setting of Danzig, by Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the original publication of this runaway best-seller, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, along with Grass's publishers all over the world, offer a new translation of this classic novel. Breon Mitchell, acclaimed translator and scholar, has drawn from many sources. The result is a translation that is faithful to Grass's style and rhythm, restores omissions, and reflects more fully the complexity of the original work. After 50 years, The Tin Drum has, if anything, gained in power and relevance.
©2009 Breon Mitchell; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
This is a new translation of the classic novel, offered on the fiftieth anniversary of its original publication.
"Grass is one of the master fabulists of our age." (Times)
"The Tin Drum itself remains a very great novel, as daring and imaginative as Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude or Toni Morrison's Beloved." (Washington Post)
"The Tin Drum will become one of the enduring literary works of the twentieth century." (Swedish Academy, awarding Günter Grass the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1999)
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
One thing is for sure: this book is never boring. Funny, annoying, weird, and a lot of other things, but not boring. It's clear that a lot of things in the book are supposed to be metaphorical. I never did figure out what the tin drum was supposed to be. I did learn a lot about the German mindset through the first half of the 20th century. Or at least, I think I did. There's enough ambiguity that it's hard to tell what Grass's opinions are, what his countrymen actually thought, whether Oskar represents what people really thought or what they thought they thought, or something else. Which is probably true of most people in most places and times. That Grass is able to capture that essence is an accomplishment. That Oskar is perhaps the most aggravating protagonist in literature doesn't diminish that in any way.
Strange, irreverent, satirical fable set around world war II era. Often difficult and disturbing yet always comical, enjoyable and entirely essential for the literary minded. Well worth the credit. One of the greatest literary works of the 20th century--along with One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez--another title I hope audible gets soon.
Upon listening to the first third of the Tin Drum, I scurried to my library and gave it a one star rating. I tried again, listening to the second section, and the rating went up to four stars. The book confounded me with the confabulations of the demented musings of a diminished man, who matures inside the body of a person who never grows any larger than a three-year-old. He takes refuge under women’s skirts, as he bears witness to the events of World War II during the invasion of Poland. Each and every of his mental constructs is made up of multiple, arcane, and original analogies. Freud and Young could have spent years arguing over whether coalescing “though bubbles” in his “steam of consciousness” tirades were really the apex of a series of “transferences,” harking back to some unconscious landscape of repressed memories or uncatalogued “archetypes” describing the most eclectic features of the collective unconscious. Such are the ravages or warring camps in the field of psychology, warring cognitions of adult and toddler occupying the same mind, tossed unwittingly about by the warring parties of World War II. Such carnage! It’s brilliant and bogus and you have to love it or hate it. I grew to love what I started out hating.
A year or so ago, I read (listened to), "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving. That book was fantastic. It had great characters and while the story was bizarre and seemed disjointed, in the end, it all came together in a meaningful and powerful way. I did some research on that book after I had finished it and found out that it was written in homage to Günter Grass' "The Tin Drum." So, reading a summary of "The Tin Drum" and having thoroughly enjoyed Owen Meany, I had high expectations starting going into this book.
The story starts off compelling and interesting. It has lots of characters, lots of disjointed stories, lots of intrigue and an interesting style of storytelling. However, after only about a quarter of the book, the storytelling style gets repetitive and boring. The numbers of characters are seemingly endless and not important to the story. The quirkiness of the main character, Oskar Matzerath, gets old and irksome. There are several times in the book when the story gets interesting again - something happens that could have a major impact on Oskar, but very quickly, that potential is dashed and the story devolves back into quirkiness and ramblings. Reading this story is kind of like being a passenger in a sports car. When the story gets interesting, it's like the driver floors it. But then, just as fast as it got interesting, the story slows down immediately because of trivial stories and irrelevant antidotes and artsy, long-winded babbling, which is like your super sports car slowing down to 20 mph because you just entered a 100 mile long school zone.
I don't know if there was something (humor?) that is lost in translation. I don't know if I'm missing references that are/were well known to Germans in the 1930s - 1950s. I just don't understand why this story was so ground-breaking in the 50's. There just wasn't anything for me to like in or take away from this book.
Sadly, the story is boring and not interesting. Oskar is initially charming and is interesting, but doesn't grow or develop. It reminds me a lot of the pompous writing of Kurt Vonnegut (and I loathe 99% of his work). The story is one, long, rambling mess that doesn't tie anything meaningful together and just stops after 25+ painfully long hours of listening.
The narrator, Paul Michael Garcia, is excellent - very easy and pleasing to listen to. He can pronounce German correctly (which, surprisingly enough, seems to be a rarity with most of the German themed audiobooks I've listened to). I would be very happy to find another book in which Mr. Garcia is the narrator.
All in all, I would not recommend this book, but would instead recommend, "A Prayer for Owen Meany."
Oscar comes alive both as a mental provocateur and a fascinating character. One feels transported to the Poland of late 1930s.
I listen to books when I'm at work or doing chores. I prefer history and fantasy. My favorite audio book is Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.
I bought this book because I'd heard it was a classic and because the excerpt sounded witty. I like byzantine writing styles used to humorous effect and I like long books and I've got a pretty strong stomach when it comes to disgusting scenes described in gruesome detail thanks to an adolescence spent reading horror thrillers and Russian literature but this tome did me in. Wittiness wears thin after 5 of 6 hours when it leads to nothing. I got through the first 8 hour chunk of this book all right, no longer amused but still tolerant. I made it all the way to the "fizz powder" and had to call it quits. All I can say in description of this book comes down to "yuck!"
Many listeners will perhaps find this book tedious and lacking humour. However a careful listener who has previously found their own human condition not lacking in elements of the absurd will find laugh out loud moments at the most unexpected time. I would compare the subtlety of the irony to that of Don Quixote or The Divine Comedy.
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