4.18.2011

Bookish {- Adjective. 1. given or devoted to reading or study.} 2011


The Sun Also Rises - Earnest Hemingway

After completing The Paris Wife I instantly began scouring our bookshelves for Hemingway, specifically A Moveable Feast but it was not to be found i.e. we didn't have it. (I remedied that this weekend when Darling and I traded in a stack of paperbacks at a local used book store--Burke's for you Memphians.) Believe it or not, I actually managed to graduate with an English degree and ravenous love of American Fiction without ever before reading Hemingway, and, as it turns out, Darling is not a huge fan (prefers Faulkner, figures). So I took the infamous The Sun Also Rises in lieu of "the feast" to get started. More than I was struck by the awe or beauty of the writing in The Sun Also Rises, I recognize that, in its historical context, Hemingway's style was incredibly modern, revolutionary, in the 1920s. But to the present-day reader, myself, I found the verb-driven prose came across overall as dry and lacking in expression or development. This is not to say that I did not enjoy the read, because it is good, but not mind-blowingly so. Reading about Jack and his posse's journey to Spain to view the running of the bulls in Pamplona recalls the thrill of traveling in general, bringing to mind my own traveling stories (my experience riding the bus from Prague to Budapest, for example) and the pace moves very quickly. The boisterous and masculine dialogue, drinking, and general swagger of every character felt a little monotonous, however. We are told all differentiation among characters as it is embedded in dialogue, (he is nice, he is needy) rather than really ever being shown the different qualities. This struck me as an odd, counter-intuitive notion for his writing considering the prose is so verb-driven (I guess for me, action signifies "doing"). I think the best writing occurs in the last 50 pages, where the bull fighting takes center stage and is given full attention. The episode almost feels as if pulled from another novel in the way it stands out from the other 200 pages. It's this snippet that displayed for me, the reputation of Hemingway. I've not given up on this guy, like I said A Moveable Feast is in the queue and from what I gather, Hemingway at his best is an essay writer and not a novelist. This conversation is to be continued. 

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