Hi, Hey, Hello!
And we are out of the madness…
And back with something that has been lacking slightly over the past month or so, a book review. Of which there will be a few this week because I to catch up on them. But first up is Ernest Hemingway and this:
Now if you were to ask me my opinion on Hemingway on any given day I would tell you that he is not on the list of authors that I would choose to read right away without hesitation. Which I know may lead to the question: Well then why did you read a Hemingway book willingly? And the answer is simple.
It was pretty much the first actual book I saw when I walked into Waterstones Piccadilly and well that was a requirement for this reading challenge this year. I almost cried out loud at my disappointment that it was Hemingway that my eyes clapped upon first and reluctantly picked the book up wondering if I could cheat with myself and pick up one that just wasn’t him. But I quickly pushed that thought to bed and just became thankful that it was a blessedly short book that would probably still somehow end up taking up a fair portion of my time to get through.
And I was wrong. And also pleasantly surprised. Super surprised. Now, like with most of the books I have ever read unless someone has thrust it into my face and demanded I read it whilst giving me a full synopsis of the plot, I had next to no clue what to expect when I inevitably opened the pages of this book.
And it’s autobiographical. Which threw me for a second and then it became something kind of beautiful.
That might have something to do with the fact that within the first few pages of reading I realised that this was the book that influenced Midnight in Paris, which I loved. And as a consequence of that I read with this romanticised image of living in Paris and being a person of leisure while also trying to make the whole writing thing and as I am sure you have guessed by now I am a sucker for travel and being transported to different cities through words. Especially one that I love as much as Paris.
Hemingway did the unexpected, for me at least, and managed to create beautiful, vivid images without necessarily using lots of flowery, descriptive language the way, say Scott Fitzgerald would. He’s blunt. He’s all about writing one true sentence, and I guess to Hemingway that true sentence just gets to the damn point. And that has always been something that I found jarring with Hemingway’s work. It always felt too blunt. Too flippant, even though it’s usually presented as some sort of statement. A lot of A Farewell to Arms felt harsh and cold and even though objectively I could see that was sort of the point, it didn’t engage me. Hemingway’s style of writing has never engaged me before. Not to the point where I would willingly put myself through reading yet another one of his novels.
But his memoir, as it were? This worked with being blunt. He talked about things matter-of-factedly. Here his practice of writing one true sentence and repeating until the thing is concluded worked. Really well.
And yeah, I was surprised.
There were some definite Big Magic vibes with this at time, mainly because Hemingway talked about the way he approached the writing process and he also touched on the way others he knew at the time went about. He usually thought they were wrong in their approach but that’s whatever. Another thing that I liked about this was his interaction with other, now famous, authors while they were all just milling around in Paris. It was interesting to get an insight into that time for them by someone that was involved in the time…if that makes sense.
It was something that I never even really knew that I kind of wanted to know more about. As much as I’m not a fan of Hemingway I am fascinated by the era that he and so many other American inter-war writers existed in. I sort of touched on it when I did an American Literature module at uni in my third year, but what with the euphoria of finally being done with formal education I kind of let it slid that I was interested in that era in particular as a time for literature. So reading this was a great, unexpected (how many times am I gonna say that word in this review honestly?), journey into that time told in a way that was both straight forward and yet also full of stunning Paris based imagery
Would I recommend this book? Yeah, weirdly enough I think I would. It’s an easy, enjoyable read and provides you with some more insight into Hemingway and the way he worked and interacted with the Paris around him. It’s also made me want to maybe move Hemingway as an author that I would consider reading up a couple places on my list…maybe.
Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!
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