Monday, December 30, 2013

The Old Man and The Sea

As the last few days of 2013 play out, I find myself looking about for projects left unfinished. There are many. I won't go in to the mile-long list (or maybe I should), but one such was Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea.

I began it several months ago, after finding it at Underground Books, a sweet little Used shop in Carrollton. How did an avid reader like me make it five decades without reading it? Who knows.

I was astonished that the paperback was so thin. It weighs in at only one hundred and twenty-seven pages. Yet it landed Hemingway a Pulitzer. And a Nobel Prize.

Read it. You'll understand why. The man's a genius.

Each sparing word is carefully selected and loaded with feeling, every line a feast for the senses. I kept taking it with me to read at lunch. Invariably, after a few paragraphs, or at most a page, I would be in tears, emotion swelling until it couldn't be contained, sometimes slowly and at others lightning-quick.

As you can imagine, I didn't get far reading it that way and so the novella ended up on The Pile. To be honest, and this will sound silly, I was afraid to finish, afraid I wouldn't like what was coming. 

The main character, Santiago, whose name I only remember because it's mentioned again at the end, is a simple man, a fisherman. He is the bravest, most honest and heart-rending character I may've ever met and I'm sure I've not met a real person like him. Unassuming, determined, stoic, strong and maybe just a little bit crazy. Yet not.

And Hemingway? Pure genius.

What is your favorite Hemingway work? Has any book affected you the way The Old Man and The Sea did me?

"The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream." ~ Amazon

4 comments:

Yvonne Osborne said...

I, too, was amazed at how small the book was. But boy, does it ever pack a punch. Heartbreaking and enduring, as is the movie with Spencer Tracy. It probably is one of my favorite Hemingway stories though I've very much enjoyed his Nick Adams stories, about life in Northern Michigan. You should read those too, if you haven't already.

A.T. Post said...

Nope, it's definitely that one. I've also read "The Sun Also Rises" but none of his other literary works. (Kind of interested in "A Farewell to Arms" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls.")

But yeah, that sparing, spartan style is what netted him the Pulitzer AND a Nobel Prize for Literature. Staggering. In just 127 pages. Some people are just too good at what they do.

Best gift I got for my birthday was this year was Hemingway's book on writing. It'll really help you ape that style (and get into better habits as a writer!).

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Yvonne, I'll check those out, thank you for the tip! I bet I'll have to travel to Michigan after reading his descriptive narrative. Hope you've had a Happy New Year.

A.T., I remember you mentioning that book one other time, I'll look in to it. What's the title?

Here's to a prolific 2014 for all of us!

~ Olivia

A.T. Post said...

It's actually called "Ernest Hemingway On Writing." http://www.amazon.com/Ernest-Hemingway-Writing-Larry-Phillips/dp/0684854295

You will LOVE it, I promise you. And a very productive year to you too.

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