I remember when the film version of Big Fish came out, I’d just started undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill and there was a bit of a to-do because Daniel Wallace lived in Chapel Hill at the time. He must’ve given a talk or something because I have a vague recollection of meeting him or hearing him speak. But the funny thing is, I never read the book or saw the story – I must’ve just been in the right place at the right time. This is the September selection for the Books into Movies book group at my local library. I enjoyed the book and we’ll see about the film.
Overall, the book was a fun read and you can take out of it any number of things, but if there is one thing that I took out of it, it’s that,
“You’re not necessarily supposed to believe it,” he says wearily. “You’re just supposed to believe in it. It’s like—a metaphor.” (112)
As someone who is brilliant at suspending disbelief, I found this book a bit difficult (which is odd) until I read that line. I can take any book, or any story, and see it as a potential possible world, no matter how far-fetched or how unreal, I like to accept things as possible. However, the way Wallace wrote this novel you can’t accept it until the end and at that point you realize that not only are the tales within the story exaggerations but that the story itself is one long hyperbole.
I’m not sure if I’m supposed to get much else out of it, but that’s what I got and I enjoyed it. After watching the film, I’ve decided that this is one of the few films I prefer to the book. Although I enjoyed the book and found it easy to read, I really felt the film brought something to it. The ethereal light Burton used to shoot many scenes and the surreal quality of the story itself really added to the overall affect.
Recommendation: I would re-read it, especially if the film is as good as I hope it is.
Opening Line: “One of our last car trips, near the end of my father’s life as a man, we stopped by a river, and we took a walk to its banks, where we sat in the shade of an old oak tree.”
Closing Line: “But no one believes them. No one believes a word.” (Whited out.)