Big Fish (The Book)

My distant relative visited me a few weeks ago. She knew I like to read, so she gave me her book: Big Fish by Daniel Wallace. It was actually her mom’s book, but she told me that her mom wouldn’t mind if she didn’t bring the book back home. That was why she gave it to me after she finished it. Yeay.

This is the official synopsis from In his prime, Edward Bloom was an extraordinary man. He could outrun anybody. He never missed a day of school. He saved lives and tamed giants. Animals loved him, people loved him, women loved him. He knew more jokes than any man alive. At least that’s what he told his son, William. But now Edward Bloom is dying, and William wants desperately to know the truth about his elusive father―this indefatigable teller of tall tales―before it’s too late. So, using the few facts he knows, William re-creates Edward’s life in a series of legends and myths, through which he begins to understand his father’s great feats, and his great failings. The result is hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous.

I have never read the book, but I have watched the movie way back when I was in high school. I liked the movie a lot but it never occurred to me to read the book. Now, when I read it, I cried happy tears. Why didn’t I read this before? It is like a piece of magic for a bittersweet relationship between father and son. While the son (William Bloom) tried so hard to understand his father, the father (Edward Bloom) tried so hard not to be understood, but to remember and be remembered as is. It made me feel like, huff, humans, why are you so complicated yet beautiful in a way?

The book described the relationship so intimately in a very distant way. It is metaphorical, comical, ethereal and just simply beautiful. It gave a different perspective to look at closure and affection and love. And above all, it’s all about love; do people try to understand each other because they love them or people love each other because they understand them? Humans are cute, right?

Well, it is just my interpretation, though. I just feel very captivated by it. Even if you have watched the movie you should read the book, too. Like seriously!

Anyway, this is one of my favorite chapters that I really like in this book:

His Greatest Power

When Edward Bloom left Ashland he made a promise to himself that he would see the world, and thus it was that he seemed forever moving, and never in one place for too long. There was not a continent that his foot didn’t touch, not a country that he didn’t visit, not one great city in which he could not find a friend. He was a true man of the world. He made cameo and yet heroic appearances in my own life, saving my life when he could, urging me toward my own manhood. And yet he was called away by forces greater even than himself; he was, as he said, riding the tiger.

But he liked to leave me laughing. This is how he wanted to remember me, and how he wanted to be remembered. Of all his great powers, this was perhaps his most extraordinary; at any time, at the drop of a hat, he could really break me up.

There was this thin man – we’ll call him Roger – who had to go out of town on business, and so left his cat in a care of a neighbor. Now, the man loved his cat, loved his cat beyond all things, so much so that the very night of the day he left he called his neighbor to inquire into the general health and emotional well-being of this dear feline. And so he asked his neighbor, “How is my sweet little darling precious cat? Tell me, neighbor, please.”

And the neighbor said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Roger. But your cat is dead. It was run over by a car. Killed instantly. Sorry.”

Roger was shocked! And not merely at the news of his cat’s demise – as if that weren’t enough! – but also at the way in which he was told about it.

So he said, he said, “That’s not the way you tell somebody about something as horrible as this! When something like this happens you tell the person slowly, you ease them into it. You prepare them! For instance. When I called this evening you should have said, Your cat’s on the roof. Then the next time I call you would say, The cat’s still on the roof, he won’t come down and is looking pretty sick. Then the next time I call you might tell me the cat fell off the roof and that he’s now at the vet in intensive care. Then, then the next time I call you tell me – your voice sort of quivery and shaky – that he died. Got it?”

“Got it,” said the neighbor. “Sorry.”

So three days later Roger called the neighbor again, because his neighbor was still watching the house and checking his mail, et cetera, and Roger wanted to know if anything important had happened. And the neighbor said, “Yes. As a matter of fact, yes. Something important has happened.”

“Well?” asked Roger.

“Well,” the neighbor said. “It’s about your father.”

“My father!” exclaimed Roger. “My father! What about my father?”

“Your father,” said the neighbor, “is on the roof…”

My father is on the roof. This is how I like to remember him sometimes. Well-dressed in a dark suit and shiny, slippery shoes, he is looking left, looking right, looking as far as his eyes will travel. Then, looking down, he sees me, and just as he begins his fall he smiles, and winks. All the way down he’s looking at me – smiling, mysterious, mythic, an unknown quantity: my dad.


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