This is Not a Real Review

It’s probably too soon for me to write a proper review of the latest book I read, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. I finished it just minutes ago and I feel that I need to live with it and mull it over for a while in order to gain full appreciation of this deceptively simple story. But still, I felt like jotting down my first impressions so I could read them again someday and compare. One thing that makes Hemingway pleasant to read is that he writes simply to express complex issues. I feel completely at home with his quick, clipped prose, probably because he’s had such a huge influence on contemporary writers. It’s also a skill I hope to acquire someday. Where my first experience with Hemingway with A Moveable Feast felt like a celebration of life, this story at times had me wondering why I should bother with this book where too many elements rubbed me the wrong way. Like the characters, who are all unsympathetic and focused only on getting as drunk as possible, day and night. Or the constant anti-semitic comments about a jewish character, who seemed to have been included in the story only so everyone could vent their hatred of Jews. That had me stop in my tracks and consider giving up a few times but I kept on, reminding myself to put the style, the story, the dialogue in context. And then I found this:

Remarking on Hemingway’s use of derogatory terms for Jews, blacks, Italians and Frenchmen, Professor Baker wrote in the foreword to the volume of Hemingway letters that the author ”was born into a time when such epithets were regrettably commonplace on most levels of American society.”

Hemingway’s anti-Semitism, he said, ”was no more than skin deep; it was mainly a verbal habit rather than a persistent theme like that of Pound.” ~ EDWIN McDOWELL, The New York Times on the Web

Then of course, I also got to travel to Spain and watch the bullfights on the cheap, so who’s complaining? With certain authors, I almost wish I was reading their work in the context of a classroom or a discussion group to shed light on aspects I may have missed in the first reading. Luckily, I’ve got Library Thing where I’ve got a lifetime membership giving me access not only to my own—and every other member’s—library catalogue, but also to thousands of review on everything every written by fellow book lovers. Only one question remains. With so many available options, what shall I read next?

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