Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, by Daniel Wallace
- Rating: 8/10
- Genre: Prose
- Pages: around 180
- Topics: Family, Adventure, Tragedy, Myths, Legends
- “In his prime, Edward Bloom was an extraordinary man. Or at least that’s what he’s told his son, William, who, faced with the prospect of his father’s death, sets about to discover who the man really was. Big Fish is the life of Edward Bloom, told as a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts that his son knows. Through these tall tales – hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous – William begins to understand his elusive father’s great feats, and his great failing.”
R E V I E W:
I decided to read this book after watching the musical that the production was based on. I know there’s a movie based on this book as well, but I haven’t seen it. However, from the clips I’ve seen from the movie, I think it’s safe to say that the movie and musical are both quite different from the novel. I found the musical to be a lot more…whimsical (not sure if that’s the right word to describe it?). I got a different vibe from the book than I did from the musical. But this review is solely on the book so here are my thoughts:
The way this book is organized is pretty weird, and it was kind of hard for me to keep up. Basically, the story follows Edward Bloom, and each “chapter” is composed of a piece of his life. You see, Edward is dying (this isn’t a spoiler it’s literally part of the summary), so the story tells his life followed by a different “take” on his death. The organization was very strange to me, because I personally haven’t read anything like this story. Basically, each “take” on Edward’s death is the present time, and the chapters including Edward’s life is in the past. This is still all narrated by William Bloom though. Most of the chapters are in chronological order starting from when Edward was born to when he dies. Although Edward’s death isn’t actually until the end of the novel, each “take” introduces a new aspect of Edward and William’s relationship. The different “takes” on his death with him and his son, William, are so serious and intense, it sometimes makes me forget the crazy and humorous stuff that Edward did in the past. From mermaids, to giants, to witches and other Speaking of crazy, William Blood has a hard time believing these crazy stories, and each “take” is basically him trying to truly understand his father before he leaves the world. The way Wallace balances the humor and the seriousness in this story, is really well done. There’s definitely more humor in the story, but the seriousness is just enough to get the point across.
“You are a good dad,” I say.
“Thanks,” he says, and his eyelids flutter a bit, as if he’s heard what he’s come to hear. This is what is meant by last words: they are keys to unlock the afterlife. They’re not last words but passwords, and as soon as they’re spoken you can go.
Since I was excited to read this book, I spent a lot of my free time reading. However, the more I read the less I became obsessed with it. I’m not entire sure why… I loved that each chapter was literally “a new chapter” of Edward’s life, but I just didn’t find the chapters that included myths to be very…. magical. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book, but I personally was just expecting more. This is just probably because I was already biased when I watched the musical version. I actually found the chapters on the different “takes” to be a lot more interesting. For example, there was one part that reminded me of that scene in The Lion King with Simba and Mufasa:
…it was his story, the story of his adult life spread out before him like a landscape, and he would take me there and hold me up so I could see and he would say, “Someday son, this will be all yours.”
PLEASE don’t tell me I’m not the one who pictured this scene while reading that quote… ANYWAYS, I think my favorite part of the whole book definitely had to be the end. It’s not a shocker that Edward dies in the end…. it’s literally….the whole purpose of the book…to celebrate Edward Bloom and the man he was…. I think Daniel Wallace did an incredible job in describing the last few chapters, because it ties the entire relationship of the Bloom family, especially Edward and William’s relationship, together. I found the last few pages to be exceptionally satisfying, because you finally understand the title of the book (it’s one of my favorite feelings when you finally understand the title!!). The ending did make me feel bittersweet though. It was a good ending, but I also felt sad. The book did leave some unanswered questions… a lot of them had to do with Jenny Hill and Sandra. I was also curious about what happens to the Bloom family after Edward’s death. Overall though, I really enjoyed this novel 🙂
No more giants, no all-seeing glass eyes, no more river-girls whose lives you could save…He had simply become Edward Bloom: Man. I’d caught him at a bad time in his life. And this was no fault of his own. It was simply that the world no longer held the magic that allowed him to live grandly within in.
Anyways, I hope you all get a chance to read this book, because I highly recommend it. It’s short, but at the same time it’s filled with so many crazy events that the length of the book won’t even seems so small. Big Fish is the type of book you can read on your own pace, without having the urge of “AHH FORGET HOMEWORK, I NEED TO FINISH THIS BOOK ADKJHFKG.” I think I will probably end up rereading this story some time in future, because I enjoyed it so much 🙂