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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 11 May 2012
This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I bought it as a convenient excuse to procrastinate, and it didn't disappoint.

Not normally a fan of fiction, I found this book interesting, and each chapter left me wanting to read the next one. Consequently I rushed through it in under a week.

Without giving too much away, this book follows the life of Oskar Matzerath cum Bronski, the unreliable narrator, who, upon the day of his third birthday and the receipt of the eponymous Tin Drum, decides to stop growing (physically that is; he appears to have been born with the mind and conciousness of an adult, describing himself as "clairaudiant") presumably to avoid inheriting his father's grocery business. The book follows the adventures of Oskar and a host of other characters in pre-war, war time, and post-war Danzig and eventually Düsseldorf.

After a bit of a slow and slightly confusing start, where the large cast of characters with unpronounceable (for me) names are introduced, the plot starts to take off, and leaves the reader curious as to what Oskar will do next.

Günter Grass has produced a marvellously well written book, and though I cannot comment on the quality of the writing of the original, this translation (Vintage Classics) appears to keep the (presumptive) linguistic flair of the German original. Even though this is the only Grass novel that I have read, I can begin to appreciate why he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1999.
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on 22 March 2016
WOULD A REAL MUSICIAN USE IT?

Would a real musician use this? Yes! I am and I can! I got this today. Been wanting to add to my varied and diverse drums and percussion instruments a tin drum with balls inside like this for a while.
Why? Am I crazy? Or maybe I'm going back to a second childhood?
NO! There is no drum sound I can get quite the same as you get from a real tin drum - and the balls inside are essential for the particular sound I want on certain of my recordings. ('Yes, he is crazy!' - did someone say?).
It doesn't break the bank or cost a fortune - and for me it works best freely hanging (from one of the cross poles I have on my multifarious kit).
The sticks I got look a bit different from the picture - they are not wood, but nice short stubby strong plastic ones - you don't want a very hard attack on this kind of drum - and you want to get just the right kind of controlled rattle inside from the balls (I do anyway!).
It works still better for me with fingers (a bit like bongo style) - this works because it's got not too tight a resonance. The clear skins also allow you to see exactly where the balls are and how they roll, which also helps control, and you can also get good effects by combining strikes to top and bottom skins (which is also helped by these being completely clear).
I had been thinking about buying a tin drum and putting several small bouncy rubber balls inside - but the rattle from these is better and clearer - they are harder, but still as bouncy. I've also added a string of pellet bells (they're cat collar bells actually - yes really!) and they work great - to add just enough - again controllable - jingle.
Can't wait to try it out with my brushes and short hot rods.
My only criticism: the strap attachments make it hang a bit lopsided. The strap length is adjustable but still doesn't hang well for an adult (but then it's not supposed to, is it?). For a kid it would be fine as is: I however will have to adapt it to hang from my kit as and where I want it.
I've worked a bit with autistic kids on music therapy. I would recommend this for such use - especially in the hands of a good music therapist (and not just for autistic kids either!).
What more can I say?
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on 31 May 2011
When I was at school, my English teacher told me to wait until I was twenty-one (because until then I wouldn't understand it)and then I should read this book. I did so. Furthermore, i did so immediately after reading Joachim Fest's biog of Hitler which adds enormously to one's understanding of many of the jokes etc. For all its flaws and, like much by GG it could have been pruned by a third, it is a work of genius as far removed from what came before as Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Unlike many innovative novels (eg James Joyce, B S Johnson) it not only opened up doors for subsequent authors, but is so great that they look like imitations. Midnight's Children is the most obvious "copy", excellent though it is. Even tighter, more honed books than Tin Drum such as 100 Years of Solitude or Owen Meaney (or indeed anything by the fabulously talented John Irving) owe everything to GG.
I may be wrong but, once GG dies and we re-evaluate his work, I reckon this will come to be regarded as the C20th's greatest novel. Yes, it has flaws, but it's a mad, wonderful feat of creativity, full of wit, humanity and astonishing imagery.
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on 24 June 2007
If you enjoy intelligent, complex and challenging art rock then you will adore Tin Drum. The best way to describe this record is genius. The drumming is just incredible and is as good as anything put out by either Tool or Rush. Indeed, their are many rythmic and technical similarities between Tin Drum and Lateralus by Tool, although musically, they are very, very different albums. Tin Drum operates perfectly within its own strange and beautiful world and is entirely unique. Stunning.
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on 1 February 2013
This is a review of the audiobook..not the book!

This is a 20 CD entire reading which is very well done. Nice and true to the dark humour.

Ok it's an American reader but throw away your prejudice. The new translation seems a bit less stuffy than the Ralph Mannheim of the Penguin edition.

A bargain but little love invested in the packaging - but hey its all about the story - Oscar lives!
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I have been meaning to read this book since it came out in 1959, but only did so now. My reason for delaying was that the reviews I had read of the book made it sound unappealing to me. Why did I want to read the unrealistic ramblings of an insane dwarf?
Having been impressed with Mr. Grass's recent work, Crabwalk, I finally decided to give The Tin Drum a try. I'm glad I did. Let me explain why.
In my studies of the Nazi era, I was always struck by comments that observers from that time made about how banal the evil of it all was. Yet much of the propaganda from that period (such as The Triumph of the Will) that we can see today makes the Nazis seem like mythic figures. What were the observers trying to say? I finally felt like I understood the point through reading The Tin Drum. Reading about distant battles while living in Germany before the bombing became great seems a lot like reading about attacks on coalition troops in Iraq now. Going to party meetings seems a lot like how people here go to lodge meetings now.
In the first 100 pages, I kept wondering why Mr. Grass had chosen to write the novel in the form of an autobiography of an insane dwarf pretending to have a mental age of 3 who had been convicted of a murder he did not commit. Eventually, it hit me. He needed a narrator who could not be considered complicit in what the Nazis did, or we could not trust his voice. In addition, how can you portray banal evils as insane unless you see them through the eyes of an "insane" person who makes all too much sense? Once I accepted the brilliance (perhaps even the inevitability of his choice), I settled back and really began to enjoy the story. Then I began to realize that it is our childish instincts to want to control everything in our lives that leads to our separation from the richness that we can provide one another. So Mr. Grass was also sharing an important psychological point in choosing Oskar as his narrator.
What made the book special for me was Mr. Grass's ability to continually show how our connections to one another are the potential for goodness, while our instincts to take advantage of one another are the evil we must overcome. Oskar Matzareth, the narrator, is a thinker . . . yet ultimately his point is that we must carefully examine what we think about. Otherwise, false ideas will lead to fatal consequences.
I was very impressed by the way that the plot was constructed so that each time society acted in divided ways Oskar himself or someone close to him was harmed.
What will stay with me the longest are the amazing descriptions of fictional people and events: His grandmother's skirts, the horse's head with the eels emerging from it, his "father's" death during the Soviet invasion, Jan Bronski's obsessive search for skat cards during the attack on the Polish post office and Oskar's reaction to the statue of Jesus coming to life will always be with me.
I found myself wishing that I could read German like a native. The satirical humor is usually savage and quick to kill its object. I fully absorbed the lesson before the blood could even begin to emerge from the butt of the satire. As I read the book, I wondered how many times I missed compelling humor because it didn't translate well into English.
At the end of the book, I found myself searching for a novel to compare The Tin Drum to . . . in order to help other readers decide if this book is for them. In the end I could find no one book. Instead, The Tin Drum can best be described as a combination of reverse sort of Gulliver's Travels, Candide and Don Quixote set in the context of German/Polish Danzig through the end of World War II and in West Germany thereafter. So there's a fundamental darkness to the book that is missing from the other three.
I came away wondering how I can stay connected with others now while retaining the ability to see and act on the events around me as a detached, objective observer. Mr. Grass has raised quite a challenge for us all.
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on 20 July 2016
David Sylvian never seems to attract the attention he deserves. His percussion is quite remarkable and although back when these first albums were written (with the exception of 'Adolescent Sex' an attempt to jump onto the punk bandwagon) are not lyrically brilliant they do point to the work he produces these days, 'Blemish' and 'Manafon', for instance, which are lyrically rich.
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on 31 May 2000
The Amazon review is slightly misleading. It's not about "The rise and fall of Hitler" in any direct sense. It's not always obvious what it is about. For once I was looking for prefaces and notes which might help with some of the references lost on an Englishman in the 21st century. Its strength is its use of language - there are some scenes and images which I may never understand, nor forget
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on 8 July 2016
One of the very best albums ever recorded in my humble opinion. I bought it on it's original release and still play it regularly even now. Really alternative music of the very best kind. Original playing particularly from the late great Mick Karn on bass. Why David Sylvian was ever compared to Bryan Ferry has always been beyond me, he has his own singular vocal sound. The wonderful Ghosts track was, unbelievably, a hit single which even I, as a fan, never saw coming so they had a wide exposure at the time due to it making the top ten!
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on 16 September 2005
This was ALWAYS a great album. This re-release has added the fairy dust of modern production and has made the whole thing sparkle anew.
For the most part I DETEST (and usually avoid) the record companies' rapacious repackaging and re-releasing ad nauseam (vast extra profit for little extra outlay) but this is a worthwhile repeat buy. The packaging is sumptuous and the sound has been very greatly enhanced.
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