Daniel Wallace (Adult Fiction)
Edward Bloom was born in Ashland, Alabama during the driest summer in forty years. Edward knew he was destined for greatness…at least that’s what he always imagined. He was to be a big fish in a big pond. After all, wasn’t it his birth that finally brought water to his town’s scorched ground? Weren’t people and animals inexplicably drawn to him? Throughout his life, Edward would be a sailor, a successful business owner, and a true man of the world who also bought an entire town down to the last square inch. Edward was also a husband, a father, and a friend to all. But most of all, Edward Bloom was a myth. His son, William, longs to be close to a father whose past is as vast and complicated as the current space between the two. With Edward on his deathbed, can William distinguish fact from fiction so that he can better understand his father? Surely stories of a two-headed geisha, a giant, and a mermaid can’t possibly be true…can they?
Daniel Wallace gives us a quirky and lighthearted story showing us the complex and messy relationship between a father and son. This book is a quick read so only lightly scratches the surface regarding Edward’s inability or unwillingness to emotionally connect with his son. All attempts at intimacy by William yield little more than a humorous story and a punchline and the reader shares in his growing frustration and apathy. Edward explains to William that his own father was rarely around, but this fact doesn’t make it any less painful for William who is constantly at odds with a pithy metaphor or a ready one-liner.
Fathers are so many things to their sons or daughters: superhero, knight, prince charming, mentor, teacher, coach, buddy. Like Edward, our own dads seem invincible, immortal, and a tad mythical. Edward measured greatness through deeds. William merely wanted a father who was an active participant rather than an occasional onlooker. And although laughter is said to be the best medicine, perhaps laughter is not the medicine, but it merely makes the real medicine go down a little easier.
Edward once said to William, “Remembering a man’s stories makes his immortal, did you know that?” I have many stories from my father’s past—stories made up of fact and fiction that intertwine and entangle themselves like vines on a trellis. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate the truth from fantasy, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter because you realize that even though your dad didn’t own a town or rescue a mermaid, he’s still pretty great because he’s YOUR dad and that alone makes him a pretty big fish.
*Book cover image attributed to www.goodreads.com
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