Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Of All That Ends

Of All That Ends by Günter Grass; translated by Breon Mitchell
Houghton Mifflin: 12/6/16
eBook review copy; 176 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780544785380

Of All That Ends by Günter Grass is a highly recommended final collection of short pieces and drawings.

This collection is Grass's swan song, his final musings on growing old, writing, and the end of his life. This doesn't mean that the collection is melancholy or depressing throughout; his prose and poetry can really be quite touching, honest, and matter-of-fact. Several of the pieces are simply his observations of everyday things. His original black and white drawings are closely tied into the prose and make his thoughts, stories, and poems even more poignant and, sometimes, whimsical or nostalgic.

Here are two of the shorter pieces

where Money lives,
Fear has moved in.
Thanks to tenant-protection laws they can’t throw her out,
nor her children, who are noisily playing Black Friday outside the stock exchange.

The soft pencil suggests
that beside the bare elk skull
- a dusty birthday present -
I lay my dentures
to make a five-line poem.

CONTENTS: Free as a Bird; On Each New Leaf; Sepia au Naturel; In an Endless Line; Swoon; Evening Prayer; Abundance; Snail Mail; My Own Sounds; Soliloquy; With Staying Power; I Lack the Strength; On the Inner Life; Which Came First; Farewell to What Teeth Remain; Over the Abyss; The Last One; Self-Portrait; Standing Singly and in Fairy Rings; Complaints of a Traveler Grown Sedentary; Innards; Once; On Payments; in Frankfurt am Main; Everyday Events; Property; What Bird Was Brooding Here?; Letters; Libuše My Love; Where His Humor Fled; In the Rollwenzelei Inn; A Late-Night Visit; After Endless Torment; And Then Came Xaver; According to the Weather Report; Still Life; A Lingering Aftertaste; Roasted Almonds; When My Sense of Taste and Smell Deserted Me; Farewell to the Flesh; Stacked Lumber; Xenophobia; How and Where We Will Be Laid to Rest; To Pass the Time; That’s by Me?; Farewell to Franz Witte; Light at the End of the Tunnel; Mutti; Homesickness; When, as Required by Law; These Are Facts; Before It’s Too Late; Covered Losses; A Winter Too Mild; The Owl’s Stare; About Clouds; Rising to Heavenly Heights; On Writing; Grandpa’s Beloved; Yours and Mine; When the Monster’s Eyes Turn Green; Fear of Loss; Gone Gone Gone; In the Greenhouse; March Again; Unteachable; The End; My Boulder; What the Beachcomber Finds; Last Hope; Now; So They Can Converse; Nail and Rope; Suggestion for a Souvenir; Twisting a Rope; Painting Portraits; Stared Right Through Me; On the First Sunday; On the Back Pew; Superstition; He Called Three Times; Dear Schnurre; Stolen Goods; Found Objects; In What’s Left of the Altstadt; Dances of Death; Stared Right Through; Tracing Tracks; Hunting Season; Open Season; Summing Things Up; Balancing the Books; August; In This Summer Filled with Hate; Herr Kurbjuhn’s Question; Of All That Ends.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.

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