The Old Man and The Sea

I'm not a Hemingway fan.

There.  I typed it out loud.

I love, love, love 'The Sun Also Rises' but that is the extent of my ability to make it through Ernest Hemingway unless you count 'A Moveable Feast' - which is kinda different so I don't count it....

Anyway -

Since I've been to Key West and visited the Hemingway House on 2 separate occasions, I've grown a little nostalgic for Hemingway's work.

I had especially thought that I might want to read 'The Old Man and The Sea' because - I don't know - I thought it might remind me of Key West or Cuba (to which I've never been, obviously (we're not allowed to go there) but where I'd love to visit in this life).  I thought it might evoke the islands in a way that I would like. 

So I was over at Barnes & Noble browsing around the other night and 'The Old Man and the Sea' was on the 'Summer Reads' table.

Did you know that it's only 50 pages long?  I had no idea!  I thought I must be looking at it the wrong way and it was actually the Cliff Notes or something.  I mean it won a PULITZER.   Fifty pages and a PULITZER?

But it is.  It's only 50 pages.  (Note to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Owens:  Why couldn't you have assigned this instead of "The Scarlet Letter'?)

So I thought 'Well, this must be a hell of a book'. 

And I also figured that I could take 50 pages of anything and then I can say "Yes.  I read The Old Man and The Sea."

Mission accomplished, charming readers.

Are you envious?  I thought so.


It's about an old man, the sea, and this gigantic marlin he catches (it takes him 2 days).  And the whole time I'm reading it, as he's fighting the fish and it's pulling him further and further out to sea, the West Virginian in me is thinking:

"That's great, Santiago.  But just how do you think yer gonna git that thang home?"

Seriously.  He'd been fishing all his life and that little problem never crossed his mind?  

Well, he caught the fish but he had a big problem on the way home.  With sharks.  Not good.  Bless his heart.  I felt so sorry for him.  All that work and then the sharks ate it.  So he sails home with the fish's carcass strapped to his little boat.  He's exhausted and disgusted and just goes to bed to recover and all the other men admire him for catching it to begin with.

*blink*  *blink*

I didn't think it was the least bit remarkable.

I know its an allegory and I read a critical review which argued that the work must be read in tandem with Hemingway's other books - after which it becomes the decisive step in elevating Hemingway's 'philosophy' on Manhood to the level of a religion.....


Between us, I sometime wonder if Ernest had some issues in his pants, if you know what I mean...

I just think that if you have to struggle SO hard to find meaning and enlightenment in 50 pages, it was never there to begin with.

So, I'm still not a Hemingway fan.

But now I can say "I read it."

And that actually makes me happy.


  1. Yeah I gotta go with you on this one. I like the Hemingway mystique. The laughable guy at the bar throwing back a few brews with the locals. I like the Hemingway house. I like the 6 toed cats. The author? yeah not so much.

    Funny, my husband is currently force-feeding himself every Hemingway book (audiobook) he can so he can say he's read every Hemingway book strictly for bragging rights best I can tell. Otherwise you can tell with him that it's like pulling off a band-aid slowly.

    As far as Hemingway's Cuba goes - I lived in Cuba for over a year back in my military days. Yeah I was on Gitmo back before it became some kind of "prison base". It was just a cool little Caribbean naval base that I still adore to this day. I had a blast down there & it broke my heart leaving. No I never got to visit Havana due to travel restrictions...but I will. Anyways, I loved the Cuba I got to live on & can see why Hemingway loved it too. If I could only visit one country (other than my own obviously) ever again - it would be hand's down Cuba.

    It goes without saying, but I LOVE Key West. Hemingway obviously loved it too.

    So I like Hemingway for his love of Key West, Cuba & beer.

  2. My 7th grade teacher read the book to our class. That was over 40 years ago and I still remember the story well. Never felt inclined to read the book again. The last Hemingway book I read was Islands in the Stream. Can't remember much about it other than is was a little reminiscent of Old Man and the Sea. I finished it, so it must of been ok.


  3. The only Hemingway I've been able to read is "A Moveable Feast," and I did love that one. A friend of mine DID travel to Cuba recently--went through a Canadian tour company! She and her husband wanted to see it as it is now.


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