I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
He could outrun anybody, and he never missed a day of school. He saved lives, tamed giants. Animals loved him. People loved him. Women loved him (and he loved them back). And he knew more jokes than any man alive.
Now, as he lies dying, Edward Bloom can't seem to stop telling jokes -or the tall tales that have made him, in his son's eyes, an extraordinary man.Big Fish is the story of this man's life, told as a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts his son, William, knows. Through these tales -hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous- William begins to understand his elusive father's great feats, and his great failings. (source)
I remember that in third grade, my teacher did a unit on tall tales. This particular teacher wasn't the greatest, and her tall tales unit was one of the few that she actually did well with. My mom was HUGE on reading to me and my siblings when we were little, so this wasn't my first introduction to the genre, but third grade was the first time that I looked at tall tales as more than just entertaining stories. I love tall tales - they're just one step away from fairy tales - but I haven't read any in a while. So for me, Big Fish was a much needed of a fantastic type of fiction.
When my tumblr book club selected this book, I knew absolutely nothing about it. In fact, I didn't know a single thing about Big Fish the whole way up to reading the first page. When my book club selects a book that I've never heard of, I sometimes like to avoid descriptions just so I can be completely in the dark about the story - I find it's a fun way to discover a new book. I'm glad I used this strategy with Big Fish; it allowed me to be completely immersed in the story. In fact, I was so consumed with it that I finished it all this morning. I realize that the book's not even 200 pages long, but I really feel that this speaks to how great it was.
The premise is that the narrator's father is on his deathbed. The father, Edward Bloom, has been kind of absent throughout the narrator's life, but the one constant thing about Edward was that he always told the most outrageous stories. There was absolutely no way that these stories were 100% factual, but the narrator knows that somewhere behind the embellishment lies the truth. So as Edward's ill, the narrator tries to get him to open up with a bit more emphasis on pure, unadulterated truth - and Edward still can't stray from his tall tales. This definitely frustrates the narrator, but by the end, he's embraced that storytelling is simply a part of his father and it helps him to accept the person who is father is.
As I said, I loved the tall tales. Some of them were really hilarious and they definitely kept me interested. One complaint that I have is that some of the stories seemed to skip around a bit and it was kind of difficult to get a real sense of who Edward is as a person - but I think that maybe Wallace did this on purpose. Since the narrator never really knew Edward, I guess the reader never gets to, either. However, none of the other characters were really fully developed, either; they're simply a mechanism to tell all of Edward's stories. So I wish that more had gone into character development. But again, I loved the tall tales and I think they speak to Wallace's creativity - some of them were really off the wall and I think he must have a fantastic imagination to have come up with them.
I'm really glad that my book club introduced me to this book and I'd really love to watch the movie sometime - unfortunately, it's not on Netflix, but maybe someday I'll come across it and be able to read it. If you're interested in reading some really funny tall tales that are target towards an adult audience rather than children (don't worry, there's not really anything inappropriate; it's just that these are a bit more sophisticated than Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox), I really suggest that you look into Big Fish. It's definitely worth a try!