If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been reading a LOT of Ernest Hemingway lately. Hubs got me the big leatherbound collection from BN for Easter, and I am working my way through it. I’m almost done, just Old Man and the Sea, which I’ll probably do after the readathon.
When I saw today’s theme, the first thing that popped into my head was the moment when Lt. Henry is wounded and needs surgery. He doesn’t want just any surgeon to do it, only a Major will do. A prospective surgeon comes in, he offers him a drink, to which the doc replies basically, “Hey, why not 10 drinks!” He examines him, tells him he can do it right away (the other doc had told he’d have to wait half a year), and that’s when Henry notices the star. He’s a Major. Done, and done.
I knew I loved A Farewell to Arms, but I couldn’t remember why, and I was seriously second guessing myself after reading The Sun Also Rises last week.
But sometimes you read a book with such an emotional ending that you forget how traumatic it is. This is one of those books.
And not only that, but the rest of the book is so damn simplistic. Yes, it’s about WWI, and but the battle scenes are very minimal. Most of it is about what happens away from the front. And the true beauty of the story is in the way Hemingway writes the very minute details. The small conversations and the little moments. He doesn’t just write “And we ordered dinner…” He writes in vivid detail about the waiter coming into the hotel room and asking whether they want woodcock or souffle. He writes about wanting his whiskey and ice separately so it doesn’t water down so quickly. He writes for two or three pages about a rainstorm. And the way he does it, in that unique Hemingway voice of his, draws you in.
It’s what he hadn’t mastered yet in The Sun Also Rises. I could tell it’s what he was trying to do, but it just wasn’t clicking for me.
I want to read Farewell again already. And again and again and again.
I’ve been sitting outside on our balcony as much as possible lately, trying to get used to the sun and heat before we move to Texas. Even though I’m a brunette, I have ginger skin, and my body does not do well in high temperatures. I’m much more a winter bird. But, I am looking forward to the change, and people say Texas is a much drier heat than Indiana, so maybe I’ll get used to it.
We had quite a few storms in the area yesterday, so I stayed inside in my little corner of the couch. And what do you know? Hemingway was writing about rain and storms in the last half of A Farewell to Arms. More on that later today.
What are you currently reading?
Rising Sun by Michael Crichton (completely coincidental to my blog post this morning)
Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
White Apples and the Taste of Stone by Donald Hall
What did you just finish reading?
The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
What do you think you’ll read next?
I just started both of the books in my top list, so I haven’t picked what is up next! We’ll see! I have a George Washington spy book that’s next on my library list, which would normally be what I would go to, but I just bought an awwwwwwwwwwwful lot of books lately….
Ernest Hemingway is one of those authors that has SUCH a distinguishing sort of author’s voice. Of course, it doesn’t help that I didn’t start reading him until after I watched Midnight in Paris, where he is so well played by Corey Stoll. When I read A Farewell to Arms, I immediately heard Stoll’s rendition of Hemingway throughout the book, and I continued to hear it in Jake’s narration of The Sun Also Rises.
I didn’t care for this book as well as Farewell. The story just didn’t click as much. I think for me, the characters were just annoying and trivial. Whiney and drunk, with no purpose. Though I suppose, that’s how Hemingway lived most of his life in Paris, so that makes sense. At least Farewell was about love and war.
Throughout this book, I couldn’t help but compare Brett to one of John Green’s little pixie dream girls. She was the only girl around, she was the center of attention all the time, EVERYONE was in love with her, of course. She was always drunk and depressed. Her only role in the book seemed to make the guys fight and fawn all over her. I wanted her to be so much more than that.
I know Hemingway was trying to make a metaphor with the bulls and steers and the unwanted Cohn. Maybe I just don’t understand bull-fighting in Spain enough, but it went over my head.
This one might take another reread or two before I fully comprehend it. I still love Hemingway’s voice, something about it just flows with me. But, this one had a lot more dialogue, and a lot less substance than Farewell, at least to me.