Books: Hound of Hell

DOG YEARS by Günter Grass. 570 pages. Harcourt, Brace & World. $6.95.

It is scarcely surprising that a novel about the monstrous should prove to be a monstrosity. However, the third novel by Günter Grass is an impressive monstrosity.

Like his other books, The Tin Drum and Cat and Mouse, and like the rest of the new generation of German fiction, it deals with the Nazi era. Dog Years is powerful, jumbled, symbol-cluttered, too long, exhausting. It drifts in and out of fantasy, scratches at memories as if they were swords too dangerous to grasp, and says nothing directly. The narrative follows, circles...

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