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.