cover image Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions

Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions

Daniel Wallace. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $17.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-56512-217-8

""People mess things up, forget and remember all the wrong things. What's left is fiction,"" writes Wallace in his refreshing, original debut, which ignores the conventional retelling of the events and minutiae of a life and gets right to the poetry of a son's feelings for and memories of his father. William Bloom's father, Edward, is dying. He dies in fact in four different takes, all of which have William and his mother waiting outside a bedroom door as the family doctor tells them it's time to say their goodbyes. He intersperses the four takes with stories (all filtered through William's mind and voice) about the elusive Edward, who spent long periods of time on the road away from home and admitted once to his son that he had yearned to be a great man. The father and son deathbed conversations have son William playing earnest straight man, while his father is full of witticisms and jokes. In a plainspoken style dotted with transcendent passages, Wallace mixes the mundane and the mythical. His chapters have the transformative quality of fable and fairy tale, and the novel's roomy structure allows the mystery and lyricism of the story to coalesce. Agent, Joe Regal; author tour. (Oct.) FYI: Wallace is an illustrator who designs T-shirts, refrigerator magnets and greeting cards.