28 October 2009

Book Review: Big Fish

Title: Big Fish
Author: Daniel Wallace
Published: 2003 Pages: 180
Genre: Contemporary Lit

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Plot Synopsis
As his father dies, William listens and remembers his father's many stories of a life lived big, and through these stories, he comes to terms with a father with a big imagination.

My Thoughts
Many children see their parents as being larger than life, but in William Bloom's case, this is true. His stories ring of myth, confrontations with giants and possessive lovers, beautiful maidens and hidden love, witchy women with glass eyes. Between his stories, his absence, and his jokes, Edward has not been a normal father. And yet the legacy of storytelling has clearly been passed down as William revisits and revises the myth of his father's death.

Stories are powerful, and Edward clearly understands this. He suggests that truth is not about fact, that stories are metaphors which reveal a greater truth than the reality of a situation can translate. I discuss this with my students quite often. How focused on fact are we? And is truth actually better transmitted through story?

Memorable Scene: I am very creeped out by the story of how Edward left Ashland. In the story, Edward decides to leave his hometown, knowing that to do so he would have to pass through a shadow version of Ashland like all others who had tried to leave before. Those who were meant to leave were allowed to pass, but those who should not have left, stayed forever in the ghost-town. As Edward goes through the town, the scary dog-guardian clearly permits Edward to leave, but the sad inhabitants want him to stay. All in all, I was horrified by the despair within the townspeople.

Memorable Quote: This is how we talk. In the land of the dying, sentences go unfinished, you know how they're going to end.

Question: Do you think truth is more or less important than fact?

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know

Trish's Reading Nook; Tripping Toward Lucidity;


  1. I've seen this movie, but didn't realize until about a year ago that it was a book, too.

  2. I love the movie and read the book afterwards and didn't enjoy it quite as much. Nymeth has told me she came to love the book equally after a second reading, so maybe one day I will do that. ;)

  3. As Amy was saying, I love this book to bits, though it did take a second reading - the first time I was just searching for the plot of the movie, and so I was let down.

    I especially love them, book and movie alike, for what they have to say about storytelling; about how truths can sometimes be better told through fiction. So my answer to your question is that they're both important, but in different ways.

  4. Amanda - I've never seen the movie for some reason.

    Amy - I would definitely read it again, and see how it is time two.

    Nymeth - Yes. A big, big yes to what you said.

  5. I didn't realize this was only 180 pages. I think I'll add it to my list since I could finish it quickly :)
    Your question is an interesting one. I recently read Travel Writing by Ferry and it addresses this. Personally, I like living in a fantasy ;)


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