by daniel wallace
“how can the world be seen at such speeds? where do people need to go so badly they can’t realize what is already here, outside the car window? my father remembers when there were no cars at all. he remembers when people used to walk. and he does, too—walk, that is—but he still loves the feeling of an engine rumbling, wheels rolling, the display of life framed in the windows in front and back, and on all sides. the car is my father’s magic carpet.”
everyone has that book; that book that quietly and humbly inhabits your bookshelf. it’s obnoxiously dogeared, highlighted, and marked with care. it’s not “the iliad” or the “catcher in the rye”. or anything by paulo coelho. it barely scratches 200 pages and yet its brevity has an immediate pull on your heart.
that is “big fish” for me. i like to think of this book as “the little prince”, but for grown ups (then again, i think “the little prince is perfect for grown ups, especially grown ups. the old, bitter kind).
my friends always joke that my favorite adjective is “magical”. not even because of my dorky affinity for the harry potter books and fantasy novels in general, i just like to think that there are a lot of things that are incredibly magical that people overlook in the everyday. and that is the crux of this book.
it’s the story of edward bloom, the father of will bloom, as edward is dying of type of terminal cancer. will has gone his whole life, living with his father, a man who he really feels he does not know at all. will, always told stories, parables, and jokes as a child by his father, and as a result this is all he truly knows of his father; the unbelievable mythical seeming tales of his life as a traveling salesman, forays with giants, two headed women, and the townspeople of a town edward supposedly bought eventually.
the book itself is a struggle between what will believes and doesn’t believe about his father, and how this frustrates him to want to know the truth of his father’s life, as it is so close to being over. what i really adore about this book, is the format. it’s set up with short and easy to digest stories about edwards fantastic existence and the struggle between father and son over if this was his true existence at all.
if you’re a lover of books that dive into the fantastic and mythical, this is a book you have to read. and if you haven’t seen the tim burton film based off of it (with ewan mcgregor as young edward bloom it’s even more incentive, ladies), please be prepared with tissues and to yell “WHY?! WHY?!” as you sob at the end of it. it’s that good.
“and the old man closed his eyes, and so did willie, and so did they all, all of them wanting to hear about the bright world my father knew was waiting for him just around the bend, on the other side of this dark place. and so he told them, and when he finished they all thanked him and smiled.”