Summer Vacation, Day 50: Hemingway

Boy, that went well. Seems like I just got underway, and already here is my two-cents’ worth of analysis – Three Things to Love about The Sun Also Rises:

  1. The Hapless Romantic. Our hero doesn’t get the girl. Sure, he’s with her at the end, but he knows he can never have her, keep her, please her; he watches as those who love her less get more of her attention and affection; and time and again he helps her to hurt him (and herself, as well). Now that’s love – sort of …
  2. Great Conversations. I’m always impressed with people who write great dialogue. Tarantino, for example, writes witty exchanges that can make brutal, nearly unwatchable, movie scenes engaging and memorable. Hemingway does something different. He dares to write close to the way people talk – not dialect or slang so much, although that’s there, too – but the random, repetitious, and often interrupted flow of social interactions between acquaintances. He often doesn’t tell you who’s speaking, and sometimes even counting back through the quotations doesn’t clear it up. But just like barstool conversations in real life, at the end of the night, most of “who said what” doesn’t matter – and in those cases when it does matter, it’s invariably clear.
  3. Write What You See. People often talk about Hemingway’s simple, declarative sentences. He does things my high-school writing instructor drilled out of me – stringing a serious of sentences together with multiple conjunctions. Starting sentences with “There was …” and “There were …” And you know something? The effect is that of seeing things through Jake’s eyes, just as they appear to him.

Next is East of Eden – I figured on reading Steinbeck, but didn’t know which one, until I met Hubba of Hubba’s House. His last name is Trask, which was too big a coincidence to overlook at the time. Jacqui of Jacqui’s Room and Deacon Tyler at Future Priests of the Third Millennium both loved it. Can’t wait!

One thought on “Summer Vacation, Day 50: Hemingway

  1. Wow. That was fast!

    I think your point on Hemingway's dialect is particularly true. Have you read the short story “Hills Like White Elephants” ever?

    I am actually jealous you get to read East of Eden for the first time!


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