cover image The Box: Tales from the Darkroom

The Box: Tales from the Darkroom

Günter Grass, trans. from the German by Krishna Winston, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-547-24503-4

Functioning both as experimental fiction and as a sequel of sorts to Peeling the Onion, Grass’s latest sheds light on a role the revered German author has thus far only touched upon: fatherhood. Grass gathers his eight children—dubbed Patrick, Georg, Lara, Taddel, Lena, Nana, Jasper and Paul—to recount memories of their childhoods and of their often absent father. The conversations are being recorded at the fictional Grass’s request, and the memories—and speakers—often overlap as the adult children fall into well-worn patterns of sibling rivalries, though it is Marie, a photographer who is Grass’s constant companion and artistic inspiration, who is the dominant presence in the children’s memories. Her ever-present camera (the box of the title), the children were convinced, was magic. “It sees things that weren’t there. Or shows you things that you’d never in your wildest dreams imagine. It’s all-seeing, my box,” Marie says. Though he controls the puppet strings of his fictionalized progeny, Grass allows their resentments and shared passions to come through as he eloquently opens up his life, once again, to public scrutiny. (Nov.)