Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The Sun Also Rises in Mekoryuk
I just finished reading Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises." I just sat down with a cup of tea and some incense and started reading, it took me about 2 hours but I finished it. Thank you Erin for recommending it, I will listen to you more often.
I was so completely wrapped up in the characters that I just had to know what would happen to them in the end, characters that I never thought I would care about in the beginning, I mean the book is essentially about post World War I ex patriots bumming and boozing around France and Spain. You have Jake Barnes (Hemingway) a sort of journalist of sorts who was wounded in the war so that it complicates his love for the beautiful promiscuous party girl Lady Brett Ashley. Jake is a connoisseur of fishing and bull fighting and is generally a very good person to most. He sort of takes care of this woman he'll never truly love, Lady Brett, who is supposed to marry a bankrupt drinking lush type named Mike who is far below her status. She had an affair with a Jewish Boxer/writer named Robert Cohn who laments after her continuously (totally obsessed with her) all the while trusty Bill holds the group together with his good will and intentions, a true chap.
This motley crew ventures to the Fiesta De San Fermin or running of the bulls in Pamplona for a week of intense wine boozing and partying, bull fights, human fights, and love, that all leads to a complicated alcoholic climax of complex relationships, romance, friendships and the truth between them all. Hemingway paints a clear no bullshit scene that feels real and makes me envious of the 20's while also making me excited for my trip to Europe.
The whole time I couldn't help but think how much the chapters were just like being in college. I mean the setting was different, the people talked different, but the interactions were so timeless. It was all so familiar for a book set somewhere I've never been in a time I've never seen. The drinking, the desperate loves, the down and outed-ness that can usually be solved by another party, another drink, another bar, its all was just so damn familiar.
This is only the second Hemingway I've read, the other being the "Old Man and the Sea" (which I loved but was too young to fully absorb I think). I want to read more of his books but only if they resemble this one right now. I'm not ready for an epic war drama, I just want more of this boozy ex patriot social scene. I want to read more of the old slang language like "What Rot" instead of bull shit, or "I'm awful tight" instead of drunk, or "Take a row at him" instead of picking on someone or talking shit and endless "Chaps" and "darlings." And they used to send telegrams back then, and they read just like our text messages these days, its just all so parallel to what is happening with the young and restless 20 to 30 somethings I know.
It is also the perfect book to have read right before Christmas, it puts all this nonsense into perspective for me. Why we do what we do in life, for love, for hope, for no other reason than because we don't know any better and we're tight. And in the end you can't make someone love you or love someone that can't be loved.
I really really really identified with this book, Jake's insights, his thoughts, the way he saw the world and usually took a middle ground between people and appreciated the purity of sport an other empirical qualities in people and things. For this reason I felt I must be a kindred spirit to Hemingway. I can't believe he committed suicide in the end. Thats not me though.
Either way, I want to read more of his work, but I want to to stay in chronological order so that I can follow his life, like I did with Jack Kerouac, I like doing that, following a writers life through their works over time. It makes me feel like I grew up with them, a sort of simulating the processes of life before I have to go through them myself.
If you get a chance read this very interesting book, it has a lot to offer people of any age, but especially those young or young at heart.