||Gunter Grass's PEELING THE ONION caused a furor in Germany after its publication when it revealed for the first time that Grass had been a member of the Waffen SS, the combat wing of Hitler's feared secret police. Detractors and defenders were numerous, and some groups demanded that Grass return his Nobel Prize for literature, but no one should take a stance until they have read Grass's exuberant memoir, which has the same zest for life and gnawing guilt that animate his novels. Grass slips in and out of third person when discussing his life, and it is not always easy to discern fact from fiction--did he meet Pope Benedict XVI when he was a teenage member of the Hitler Youth? Probably not--but Grass's true sense of shame over his own involvement in Germany's dark past is powerfully felt. For fans of Grass's literature, the book will provide delightful insights into his boisterous postwar life, his bohemian antics, his lovers, his love of jazz, and his formative years as a writer. This is no typical memoir: it also includes whimsical profiles of "characters" important in Grass's life, including his penis and his typewriter.
||In this extraordinary memoir, Nobel Prize–winning author Günter Grass remembers his early life, from his boyhood in a cramped two-room apartment in Danzig through the late 1950s, when The Tin Drum was published. During the Second World War, Grass volunteered for the submarine corps at the age of fifteen but was rejected; two years later, in 1944, he was instead drafted into the Waffen-SS. Taken prisoner by American forces as he was recovering from shrapnel wounds, he spent the final weeks of the war in an American POW camp. After the war, Grass resolved to become an artist and moved with his first wife to Paris, where he began to write the novel that would make him famous. Full of the bravado of youth, the rubble of postwar Germany, the thrill of wild love affairs, and the exhilaration of Paris in the early fifties, Peeling the Onion—which caused great controversy when it was published in Germany—reveals Grass at his most intimate.