With any luck on the covid-19 front, I am heading to Key West in August. It will be my second trip to the island, after honeymooning there a couple of years ago. Last time I went, I read Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and The Sea, the Key West native’s final book.
So, with a return trip to the Keys on the horizon, I decided to read what is often considered his best work, A Farewell To Arms. Farewell is Hemingway’s semi-autobiographical even if wildy embellished tale of romance and war, specifically World War I in Italy. Having taken the tour of the Hemingway house and knowing a little more about the author, I enjoyed noting the differences between real life and fictional embellishment in this one, knowing the differences and similarities between Hemingway and Frederic Henry.
Literary wonks will opine on Hemingway’s brevity, coarseness and his lack of superfluous descriptors…you know, like the word superfluous above. To those wonks, I say spend a life in journalism and you will find Hemingway’s style just fine, and even a little wordy still at times. Brevity is an artcraft. As for the the other common Hemingway criticisms, yeah, someone dies and it rains.
This story was better written than Old Man and the Sea, although I would be more likely to reread Old Man because it made me think about life more upon completion. It would make sense that way, since Old Man was a “late in life” book. In style vs. meaning, I’m often going to side with meaning. I’m like that way in music too, where “three chords and the truth” is right in my sweet spot.
I tend to read nonfiction and listen to fiction. This was no exception. This was actually my first book since joining Audible. I usually downloaded my audiobooks in the past. John Slattery read this one, and I think that also helped me, in that the two performances I most associate with him, Roger Sterling and Howard Stark, I could see both being big fans of Hemingway. That subtle association added just the right touch for me.
I don’t know when I will circle back around to Hemingway again. Probably before a third trip back to Key West, because I would like to make that a recurring vacation every few years. The only other location I have repeated as an adult has been Las Vegas for March Madness several times now.
I probably should have drank some rum while I typed this. I’m sure it would have been much more witty had I.