Ode to Hemingway

In Eclipse on January 20, 2009 at 12:27 am

In my efforts to expand my reading of the masters (of story), I just finished reading Hemingway’s The Sunsun-also-rises Also Rises.  Not only had this book been recommended to me, but I have never experienced a work by Hemingway.  In college, I may have been ‘required’ to read The Old Man and the Sea, but never completed the act.  The last author I felt compelled to educate myself with was Faulker.  Sadly, I read forty pages of The Sound and the Fury before retiring it back to the library.  Impatient with the commitable, I suppose.

Hemingway’s observational prose wove an interesting narrative.  I was keenly impressed by the way he strung short, simple phrases together to create an overall picture of characters and scenes.  His most impressive were the telling facts.  He gave short snapshots that, at first glance, begged the question, “What more is there that he omitted?”  Truly, omission can be a great tool for spurring the imagination.

On a narrative level, I felt a progression of hope in the book.  Starting in a bankrupt Paris, the main character and narrator, Jake, makes his way toward Pamploma, Spain to see the annual bull fights.  The hope and restfulness of the narrative climaxes in his fishing excursion to Roncesvalles.  From there, Jake and his friend, Bill, progress to Pamploma for the grand fiesta, highlighted with bull-fighting And an inordinate amount of drinking.  Although they was drinking throughout the story, it is depicted with such elegance and almost a harmlessness.  The amount of drinking is simply wreckless; sometimes it was wreck-full drinking.  Spain’s heritage of bull-fighting carries with it a depiction of mystery, honor and dignity.  However, Jake is more at home in France, where people responded more directly to money.   There were no other deeper codes.

Overall, the story left me with a satisfied longing.  The characters avoidance of true depth strikes a chord with me.  I related to their tiresome searching.  Despite all the festivities, libations and relationships, none of the characters seemed fulfilled.  All were left longing.  That is where I was at the end of the story.  Longing for more; more for them.  From Hemingway, I learned that simple observations can be very helpful in creating a scene.  Also, I appreciated the gradual progression or movement of his story that acheived an effect, rather than definite closure.  I must nod my head to his ‘Tour de France’ references toward the end.  It was then, that I wondered about his influence on Dugard, who also wrote a story as an American on French soil.


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