Hemingway is Boring

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about some sea-themed books I had read. The Old Man and the Sea was one of them, and I really didn’t cover it much because… well, there was really nothing to say. Hemingway didn’t do it for me.

My co-worker found out that I wasn’t a huge fan of Hemingway and then lent me The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. I read it and still am not a big fan. I’ve had some time to think about it, and I’ve decided that it is because his books are about nothing. I suppose that was why he was such a “genius”. Evidentially, people in the middle of the 20th century wanted to read about nothing. But I don’t. I’ve always said that the only good stories are ones that are worth telling. Hemingway’s stories are all about talk. It is a celebration, I suppose, of listening to people talk. Which is bloody boring.

The point of a novel is to pull all the things out of a character’s life that are worth telling. Hemmingway disregarded that and decided to tell you all the things that were not worth telling. Maybe I am just too boorish to appreciate Hemingway, but I want to read a story that has a point.

‘I went to the Italian restaurant by my house for lunch. I ordered a bottle of wine. The waiter had a twitching eye. I’ve always mistrusted people with twitching eyes. He came back with the bottle—vintage 1932 Château de la Mentenda Agraffe con BLUH. It was good wine. I got a little tight. I saw a lady sitting at a table nearby. She had a black hat with a feather in it. She looked at me. Then she looked at her food. She was eating spaghetti with chicken meatballs. I have never had chicken meatballs. Maybe someday I will have chicken meatballs. She was having chicken meatballs, and she appeared to be enjoying them. I was enjoying her, so maybe I would enjoy chicken meatballs. She saw me staring at her, so she got up, came over, and sat down.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hello,” she said. Then she looked at my bald spot. I’ve always mistrusted people who stared at my bald spot.

“I see you like chicken meatballs,” I said.

“Yes, chicken meatballs are better than non-chicken meatballs” she said.

“Is that so?”

“Yes, that is so.”

“Wow. Do go on.”

“No, I don’t think I will.”

I finished my bottle of vintage 1932 Château de la Mentenda Agraffe con BLUH. The man with the twitching eye came back with another bottle. I poured chicken-meatball-lady a glass and she accepted. Then she got tight. Then she called me darling. Then we left in a cab. Then she vomited and I dropped her off at the nearest curb. I no longer desire to eat chicken meatballs.”

Imagine that, minus the tongue-in-cheek humor, for an entire book. Yeah, that was Hemingway. Whoop-de-fricken-doo.

On the back of The Sun Also Rises is one critic who praises the book and describes it as “emotional” and “heartbreaking’. Ok, here is a rundown (and a spoiler alert, so if you want to read it, stop here). The book is about a bunch of rich writers. They eat at one restaurant, then move on to another, then go to a bar, then meet some ladies, then go to another restaurant, then drink some more. That is the first three-fourths of the book. The final fourth is about the one female character hopping in bed with a bull fighter. Hemingway is trying to make the main character a sympathetic character because he is in love with the woman who is in bed with the bull fighter and he can do nothing about it because he sustained an injury in the war that makes him impotent. I’m sorry, but I really can’t sympathize with the man. He leads a great life. He is wealthy. He eats out for every meal. He drinks multiple bottles of wine a day. He has many great friends. His one flaw is that he is impotent—that he can never have sex, to be plain—and that is why he is a sympathetic character. Are we so obsessed with sex in this culture that we give a character the world, but if he can’t have sex, well, then the poor chap is living a rather tragic life?

What a lousy premise for a book. What a lousy climax for a book—lead female character hops in bed with a bull fighter. Zonk. Pfff. Yarbols.

Anyhow, so that is Hemingway, and I am not terribly fond of him. Just thought you all would like to know. Now back to work on a new movie. No bull fighters in this one, sorry.


is best known as his alter-ego Oxhorn, author of popular machinima movies. When he's not wearing suspenders with a certain sort of finesse, he's reading, writing, blogging, doing web design, making movies and more often than not enjoying a classy drink with an even classier cigar. Watch his movies at oxhorn.com and feel free to stalk him on Twitter and Facebook.

Posted in Essays, Literary
9 comments on “Hemingway is Boring
  1. The Queen of Tarts says:

    I have to say I relate. As an English major I have had to read “The Scarlet Letter” approximately umpteen-billion times.

    I am aware that it supposed to be a wonderful story about human nature and private and public guilts, but for goodness sake; any author that takes 4 and a half PAGES to describe a rose outside a door needs to have his train of thought derailed!!

    Hope you are enjoying the bay area now! Hope you arent getting too wet with all of the storms lately!

  2. Anonymous says:

    i am sorry i cant imagine what a rose looks like

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure someone, somewhere, would find the book inspiring or somehow even remotely interesting, but I simply cannot sympathize with that person. Oddly enough, that person is my dad. But then again, he believes that all people are essentially good and that some are merely mistreated or misguided, so I can’t really sympathize with him anyway. No offense to anyone who can, of course.

    Then again, I have trouble reading anything in which no one gets stabbed, shot, blown up, electrocuted, beheaded, or otherwise horrifically destroyed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m with you. A guy has the world at his feet, but just because that world doesn’t include sex, life is oh-so-sad. Some people. Just ain’t happy without everything. I think they call that avarice, but I sometimes get that confused.

    Interesting note: If there were bullfighters in your next movie, considering the most well-known characters (Oxhorn, Staghorn and Mort)… Well, you get the idea.

  5. shivashetty says:

    just wrapping the yawnfest that is Old Man and The Sea. I could not agree more with you. What a bore!

  6. kai says:

    thank you very much for your post. just read the first 10 pages and realized that something is wrong. Googled the keyword “is hemminway boreing” and taa taa.
    Don’t worry about the spoiler altert…it was a big time saver…what a relieve that i did not continue reading. Thanks alot

  7. Robyn Lively says:

    Brandon. I would first like to say that I don’t really go in for heroes. That being said, you are officially my hero. I recently started reading Hemmingway because I’m trying to become more “well read” whatever that means. After reading four or five of his most notable works I decided that Hemmingway is the most boring read ever. Every once in awhile I would stumble upon a sentence or two that seemed insightful and wise but having to slogg through all the crap to get there! Forget it. You nailed it. Hemmingway writes about nothing. Keep up the good work.
    Your new best friend

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