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These memoirs of Gunter Grass's early years are literary in at least two senses. FIrst, they are presented in a very literary manner. Grass employs lots of rhetorical tricks and fireworks, such as alternating the first and third persons to refer himself, slipping back and forward in time, long and complex sentences,and so on. This sometimes makes for a hard listen and may not be to everyone's taste. Some of the most effective parts of the book are those where he slips into a simpler narrative style and lets the events speak for themselves.
Second, these are memoirs of a literary man, and they contain a lot of allusions and references (sometimes identified, sometimes not) to works of Grass and other german writers. At one point, he refers to a trip to Italy as a journey to the 'land where the lemons blume.' This is a reference to a famous poem by Goethe, which would be very familiar to most German readers but less so to Americans. If you are not fairly familiar with some of Grass's work (at least The Tin Drum) and German literature generally, you will frequently feel (correctly) that you are missing a little something.
Mr. Grass is all over the place and none of the writing tells a story that is easy to follow.
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