Something lovely and magical happened to me as I read Big Fish, by Daniel Wallace (my second book for Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge). There were two stories going on in my head as I read…the story in the book about a father and his son coming to terms with the father’s impending death, and trying to understand each other and their relationship…And the story of my own experience with my father’s death and dying, and the processing of that all-important relationship in my life. I guess that’s what really good books do–they touch something deep inside us and trigger a whole new understanding of ourselves and our experiences. And that’s what myth does, also. It helps us understand more about being human. So this little book of stories, humor, and exaggeration, has the perfect subtitle: “A Novel of Mythic Proportions.”
I’ll have to read the book again, because this first time through ended up being all about my own dad. There were so many things that reminded me of him, and yet this book was not our story. But still…my Dad had a wicked sense of humor, even on his deathbed…my Dad was a Big Fish in that he touched so many lives and meant so much to so many people…my Dad was a wonderful storyteller and his stories became the fabric of the family mythology… And I struggled, too, to understand the man behind the humor and the stories, to come to terms with being his daughter, and to understand the gifts and the foibles he passed along to me.
“Remembering a man’s stories makes him immortal, did you know that?”
Big Fish, by Daniel Wallace, is a short little book with a huge heart, and is a poignant gift to all of us who have lost a beloved parent.