If you ever intend reading this book then please do not read this post any further because it will spoil everything for you.
The ending reminds you that at 572 pages this has been a much bigger book than it feels encompassing a thriller, biography, and history of the war from the perspective of an outsider and finally a commentary on the way society treats those who are different from the norm. Although it didn’t seem like a word that I would have used last week to describe this book it is in parts brilliant and the way all the strands are weaved together is done with the touch of a great writer.
Bullet points between pages 488 - 572
* Oskar is finally reunited with his drum as he discovers that his neighbour is a flute player and they play music together and following that moment he decides to stop being a grave stone engraver or a model and decides to become a jazz accompanist
* The problem is that they need to find a guitarist and so the neighbour Klepp who until the music session was a bed-ridden royalist heads out to visit the nightclubs to find someone suitable
* In the meantime Oskar without any clothes on and just a bit of coconut matting to hide his genitals bumps into the nurse in the dark and then for some reason in response to her questioning in the dark pretends to be Satan
* In response to his impotent sexual encounter with her in the dark hall and confession of his real name she packs and leaves the house leaving Oskar to carry on being a jazz player on his own
A job at the strangely named Onion Club, where the guests peel an onion and communally cry, is the next location in the story with Oskar and Klepp there to stop people from getting too carried away
* One night as the guests at the onion club are given too many onions Oskar drums in a way he hasn’t for years and uses his drum to conjure up memories of childhood that the audience all share
* He is then saved from a car accident by luck and the owner of the Onion Club is killed leaving Oskar out of work but he is offered a contract by an agent who wants him to start drumming on his own
* Oskar accepts but only after taking a trip with Lankes the solider he met in the concrete pillbox on his tour of France coastal defences and they head back to the same pill box for a holiday before coming back and Oskar launches his drumming career
* Things are going well with Oskar buying Maria a delicatessen and becoming financially stable but he discovers a ring finger in a field and then events take an odd turn with Oskar deciding to confess to the murder of the woman who once was attached to the finger – the nurse who had lived opposite his room
* He is caught on the run, something he does for effect, and is then put in the mental hospital but the book comes right up to date and Oskar who has been in the hospital after he was found to need treatment rather than prison is celebrating his 30th birthday
* At this point it emerges the real killer of the nurse, a jealous friend, has confessed and as he waits to be acquitted and turfed out of the hospital he considers his future as a 30 year old and is almost paralysed with fear of the black witch – childhood fears and a superstition that he is being watched and you start to understand that finally death could be coming for the man/boy who has seen so many funerals
A review will follow at the weekend…