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Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass
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Peeling the Onion (2006)

by Günter Grass

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Unreliable memoirs; but not merely of a houseboat on London's bohemian fringe. Here it's coming of age in Nazi Germany and serving in the Waffen SS. Peeling back layers of onion skin is one of several metaphors of detachment Grass resorts to for not recalling quite what he did or why, as is switching to the third person or passive voice. Yet he can portray clearly the mindset and motives of the future Pope Ratzinger whose path he briefly crosses in a postwar internment camp. It is a long time ago but more candour would have been better. Still, some interesting passages, and plenty of "Tin Drum" prehistory. ( )
  eglinton | Oct 12, 2014 |
Laborious reading that starts off fine but the style is tiresome within the first four chapters. Tons of names and locations which make it difficult to keep everything straight. A good complementary read to his book, The Tin Drum. ( )
  nandrews | Apr 4, 2013 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1644670.html

A fascinating autobiography - though in fact it covers only the years from the outbreak of the second world war, in the late 1930s, to Grass's first marriage 20 years later. I don't think you can read it without also reading or having read The Tin Drum, which has a lot of autobiographical elements in it, here carefully untangled and explained. Grass of course did not have the option of not growing up; he ended up rapidly inducted into the SS as the Eastern Front crumbled, hints at being interned together with the future Pope Benedict XVI, and was cast adrift in the Rhineland like so many other easterners after the war ended, finding his way to literature through a sculpture career which began with making tombstones. Often horrifying, at times sexy and funny, it's not quite the book I expected but I think it is a hugely important contribution to understanding how Germany has become the sort of country it is now from the country it once was. The book's revelation that Grass had been in the SS was apparently news when it came out, though this basically illustrates the whole problem of Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Strongly recommended. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Feb 11, 2011 |
A magnificent and brutally honest memoir. Having been conscripted into the SS youth, the author describes what it was to be an adolescent in a war. He was forced into service, yet makes no bones about having believed in Nazi ideology, until the horrors of the war, having to face the reality of concentration camps, and the corruption he witnessed from politicians and profiteers afterward, transform the young man he became in post-war Germany, into an accomplished painter and sculptor, and anti-war political activist. He spends the rests of his life shamed and trying to redress his youthful infatuation with Fascist ideology. The book, by the way, is beautifully illustrated with his sketches. Everybody can learn from this story about the follies of youth and how easy it is to manipulate the young with group-belonging "ideals". In the end, the book is an elegy to his mother, who never failed to believe in him and love him, and who died tragically before he was able to truly appreciate her. Her love--and death--fueled and inspired him to become a writer. As for me, I plan to read ALL his books! ( )
  MissTrudy | Aug 31, 2010 |
excellent
  banlon1964 | Jul 25, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Günter Grassprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Estelrich, PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0151014779, Hardcover)

In this extraordinary memoir, Nobel Prize–winning author Gunter Grass remembers his early life, from his boyhood in a cramped two-room apartment in Danzig through the late 1950s, when The Tin Drum was published.

During the Second World War, Grass volunteered for the submarine corps at the age of fifteen but was rejected; two years later, in 1944, he was instead drafted into the Waffen-SS. Taken prisoner by American forces as he was recovering from shrapnel wounds, he spent the final weeks of the war in an American POW camp. After the war, Grass resolved to become an artist and moved with his first wife to Paris, where he began to write the novel that would make him famous.

Full of the bravado of youth, the rubble of postwar Germany, the thrill of wild love affairs, and the exhilaration of Paris in the early fifties, Peeling the Onion—which caused great controversy when it was published in Germany—reveals Grass at his most intimate.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Nobel Prize-winning author Gunter Grass remembers his early life, from his boyhood in a cramped two-room apartment in Danzig through the late 1950s, when The Tin Drum was published. During the Second World War, Grass volunteered for the submarine corps at the age of fifteen but was rejected; two years later, in 1944, he was instead drafted into the Waffen-SS. Taken prisoner by American forces as he was recovering from shrapnel wounds, he spent the final weeks of the war in an American POW camp. After the war, Grass resolved to become an artist and moved with his first wife to Paris, where he began to write the novel that would make him famous. Full of the bravado of youth, the rubble of postwar Germany, the thrill of wild love affairs, and the exhilaration of Paris in the early fifties, this book reveals Grass at his most intimate.--From publisher description.… (more)

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