“Big Fish” by: Daniel Wallace

Edward Bloom is quite a character. He obviously uses humor to diffuse serious situations, but he also really likes telling tall tales. I think a lot of it was that he felt like an ordinary man. Too ordinary. Too average. He wanted his son to think he hung the moon.

Edward wanted his son to think him mythical. Larger than life. He wanted love and admiration. I don’t think he was completely self-centered, but I do think he wanted more. He wanted a life of adventure and so he created one.

Other people seem to see him the way he tries to make them see him. At least in his stories. I was unclear on some of the story if Edward was telling these stories to his son or if the son somehow had confirmed that the way people “reacted” to his father were the ways they actually did act. It was hard to tell the stories from the “reality” sometimes. Which is part of the fun in magical realism books like this actually.

That suspension of disbelief I couldn’t fathom doing your entire life. Edward seemed to make Will question what was true and what wasn’t so much that Will felt like he never really knew his father. Well, no one ever *really* knows anyone else around them. It isn’t possible to be in someones head all the time, to know their constant changing beliefs, or even their likes/dislikes because we as humans change and evolve. We grow. We are not stagnant. Labels don’t matter to Edward so much as how he wants others to imagine him.

I feel like the movie may clarify many elements of the book because it may explain/go into more depth. The book was short and sweet, however, there was a lot of material covered in it.

(I have not seen the movie, but will soon. I can’t believe that I haven’t ever seen it as I am a HUGE Tim Burton fan. I always wanted to read the book first and now I have!)

It seems like the entire story was showing how a son deals with the death process of his father. Death is an unknown and so it becomes scary for many.

I don’t think Edward was trying to deceive his son so much as make himself mighty in Wills eyes. He wanted to live on after his death. From a psychological perspective that makes a lot of sense. Many humans want to feel “immortal” through their legacies/children/stories handed down.

I think Edward wanted his son to remember him.

I wonder what he “saw” in the eye of the witch. Did he “see” his son? Did he see his son maybe not remembering him so he changed things to make that not happen? Did he make the entire story about the “witch” up? (The last is probably most likely. Although, she could have been like a fortune teller and Edward added in the witch elements to add more to the story.)

We use fiction as a way to reflect reality. We tell stories to make life bigger. To handle it. To try to make sense of it. I feel like Edward just wanted to pass a more light-hearted way of seeing the world to his son. That isn’t a bad thing. Will may have felt betrayed in that he was told these stories all his life and they were made up/stretched. Then again, parents do that all the time with the Easter Bunny, Santa, etc. Parents want their children to experience the innocent magic of the world. That isn’t an inherently bad thing.

I really enjoyed this book. I think I will also enjoy the movie.

I would recommend this read to anyone who wants to reflect on parent/child relationships, how humans deal with the dying process, or anyone who wants a little bit of escapism/tall tales in their lives.

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