Friday, January 30, 2015

The Sun Also Goeth Down

 

“It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.”   --from The Sun Also Rises

This week, I had to shelve David Copperfield to read with my daughter.  As this is her last year at home, and one of our favorite things to do is co-read, I decided I would try to keep up with her AP English reading.  It's like having homework.  I don't like someone dictating my reading choices and schedule (that's why I don't join book clubs). The sacrifices we make for our kids!

Don't tell the teacher, but I am behind.  I'm about half-way through what is a re-read of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises for me, and so far I am yet again underwhelmed by Hemingway. I read an assertion once that readers like either Faulkner or Hemingway but never both.  Well, I LOVE Faulkner, so you see where that puts me with Papa.  I need someone to tell me what is so great about Hemingway.  I'm trying to keep an open mind here.  I'm trying to like his work.   I even went into this reading determined to like this book.  I just don't get it.  Maybe I'm not hip enough.  Maybe it's my small-town naivete, my lack of cosmopolitan flair.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I see no value in it, and I'm not saying it's not good.  It's just not great to me, and I really want someone to explain to me what I am missing.  The dialogue is abrupt, terse, even brusque and disjointed.  He writes like drunk people think...scattered and overestimating their own wit.  Reading Hemingway makes me feel like the only sober person at the party.  Maybe that's the problem.  Maybe I need to be drunk to appreciate it.  I'll try that with the second half of the book and report my findings next week when I wake up.

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11 comments:

Care said...

ha! I read Old Man and the Sea twice and I still fail to see what was so awesome about it. I 'get' it, I even got an A on a symbolism paper on that book but it just didn't impress me...
I say don't worry about it.
I also need to give Faulkner another try. I haven't read anything by him since HS.

Bryan G. Robinson said...

I don't know. I always liked Hemingway because I guess I liked his being terse as you say. However, I understand those who don't like him. His subject matter? Well, it's not the most uplifting. However, if you don't like him, why reread him? Just wondering.

Erin @ Paperback Stash said...

That's so cool on the co-reading and that you can do that with your daughter. I haven't read The Sun also rises yet but have it on the tbr list.

Barbara Bartels said...

Great post. I haven't read Hemingway for a long time, but what I remember is you have to like terse. You have to imagine the unsaid. Like filling in the blanks. Maybe it was the alcohol for Hemingway, although I think the same could be said for Faulkner that it may have affected his writing in a different way -- in a kind of long sitting on the porch telling stories while drinking in the South kinda way.

Amy said...

Care -- now that you're a Southerner, you are required to re-read Faulkner!

Bryan -- I am asking myself that same question and very well may abandon this one. I read it again at this point to read with Anna, but I had been wanting to re-read Hemingway to see if I could like him this time. I want to like him; I just can't.

Erin -- We love co-reading! It's such a great way of sharing and spending time together.

Barbara -- Love that description of Faulkner. Maybe that's why I love him. I'm a porch sitting Southern drinker :)

thecuecard said...

I havent read The Sun Also Rises since perhaps high school but did read Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls in the '90s. I guess I liked those; they gave a glimpse into two different wars and explore how shattering war is. His simple declarative sentences have a way of capturing things without sentiment. They seemed quite visual. Perhaps since he was a journalist first. He does seem the opposite of Faulkner in various regards, though I'm sure they both loved their alcohol. good luck with "school" ...

Amy said...

I think part of the reason I don't like him is that I don't like war/conflict stories. I also don't loved to read about lost, broken people in there's no redemption in the end. I deal with enough of those in real life. I've abandoned this one for now.

Vintage Reading said...

Oh, lovely that you read with your daughter. I miss that now my girls are older.

Can't do Hemingway, either!

Amy said...

I gave up on this one.

Renaissance Cracker said...

It seems that guys prefer Hemingway more because of the instinctual thought processes of his characters.

There isn't a bunch of musing about this or that, but more a pragmatic approach and then BAM a decision is made and stuck to versus what I would suggest is a more feminine process of mulling things over, talking about them and then acting.

I like Faulkner too, but he is verbose and super descriptive unlike Hemingway who paints the setting with fewer, bolder strokes of language.

Those of us that hunt and fish reread Hemingway's stories about safari or those tales that are set on the ocean or a trout stream because it reminds us of that indescribable feeling of being out in nature. Escaping into tales of hunting lions or catching Marlin is a great way to wash the days stress from the office off your back. It isn't just the action, its the feeling of being in a camp in Africa or sitting by a mountain trout stream.

I really enjoyed "Hemingway's Boat"! This was a great book about Papa's fishing yacht "Pilar" and the boat was sort of a nucleus that he revolved around during that tumultuous life he lead. Inanimate objects are really important to men and as silly as it sounds our boats give us a sense of place and make us feel grounded. I strongly suggest you read this account of his life. It read more like a novel than a historical monograph.

Amy said...

I agree that guys seem to prefer Hemingway. There have been times in my life when I have enjoyed him, but it seems highly dependent on my mood. I do understand and enjoy the outdoor ambiance his works provide. I just get impatient with the choppy he-man writing style, but I am a woman... Thanks for the book recommendation and the comment!