Katz und Maus [Cat and Mouse]
The Tin Drum I definitely enjoyed, but this second book of Mr. Grass’s Danzig trilogy has left me rather cold, mostly because I didn’t feel there was anything to gain from reading it. The story was mundane and so was the writing. The constant switch from 2nd to 3rd person is a neat enough trick to underline the narrator’s subjectivity and mixed feelings on the subject, but it occasionally gets tiring. And maybe it sounds like I feel entitled to criticize a classic, but I don’t – I just didn’t click, didn’t connect with this book.
It all takes place during WWII, it’s narrated by Pilenz who was a high school student at the time and has, as a central figure, Joachim Mahlke – The Great Mahlke – an ambitious, quiet boy, raised without a father. Being rather withdrawn by nature, he’s largely ignored by his classmates (or mocked for his distinctive Adam’s apple) until he learns how to swim, becoming the most daring of them all. They spend entire summers diving off a sunken minesweeper and Mahlke is the one who brings out and collects most of the things still intact in the ship. Then one day…you know what, you can check out the plot summary on Wikipedia, there’s no point in my retelling it yet again. 😉 I did enjoy Oskar Matzerath’s brief cameos (he was the protagonist of The tin drum) – just like I usually enjoy references to characters I know/love popping up in unexpected places.
Speaking of things I enjoy, here’s an unrelated fact that really made me happy the other day: the first 3 Sandman volumes are now sitting in front of me and I’m half way through the first one. I can feel the love – and I’ll be writing about that soon enough (there’s unexpected characters popping up in there too – hello John Constantine!) 😀
Oh, and this funny little trailer.