I just finished reading Ernest Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea.”
Maybe this takes me down a few notches on some sort of literary totem pole, but I hated it. I would even go so far to say that I despised it.
The only good thing I can say about it? Thank the gods it was less than 150 mind-numbing pages that I was forced to read. And I skimmed most of the last 50 pages just so I could put it on my summer reading list when school starts in two weeks.
As a writer, there are two things I focus on: plot and interesting writing. I know Hemingway is one of the guys Barnes and Noble puts on their bags, but really? The book is about a guy who goes fishing. Have you ever watched someone fish for four or five hours? It’s pretty freaking boring. But that’s pretty much what this book is like. And the writing? Also pretty freaking boring.
I mentioned this to my husband who promptly launched into a dissertation on the struggle of man v. nature, blah, blah, blah. I got that part within the first two pages of, “My hands hurt, the fish kept pulling the line.”
I guess this just goes to show that sometimes rules are meant to be broken. I will say one thing for good old Ernest, he doesn’t bore his readers with a bunch of flowery prose.
So, what do you think? Would you rather read something long and flowery or something Hemingway-esque, short and to the point? (I would say sweet, but unless you consider wanting to gouge your eyes out to be sweet, I don’t think it would be an accurate description.) Do you think someone who writes like Hemingway could even get published today?
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say no, he couldn't be published today. But then, I'm not a fan of literary fiction. I want something to happen in the books I read. Fishing? Um, no.
Old Man and the Sea is just about fishing? C'mon, that's like saying Moby Dick is just about whaling. 😉 Hemingway's talent was that he could convey emotion and drama without a lot of superfluous words. His brevity is his genius. I think that were he writing today and trying to get published, he'd have a hard time not because of his writing style, but because of his characters. Their personae are not really politically correct these days.
I am with you 100% of the way on Hemingway.
I'm with Elana. I want something to happen in my books. (Why I'll never read Twilight again in my life.)