The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Mike’s review

I should have had a conversation with Jenny about Paris when we were in New Orleans. “It was always pleasant crossing bridges in Paris.” Reminds me of New Orleans for some reason. Mississippi? I don’t really remember bridges though. (Brief text conversation reveals architecture of French Quarter similarity, but little other memory of Paris still remains.)

Brautigan when he’s serious? Is that the comparison I want to make? There’s a stream of eventfulness without consciousness I wasn’t expecting. Seems like it should be 1960s, not 1920s. There are parallels between the decades, but it seems strange I would be so easily moved to 60s. There are definite differences: jazz drummer comes to mind. I feel like I want to say Kerouac, but that would be unfortunate.

Is our “morally corrupt” culture of entertainment all that different from anything before? Visitor cites theatrical season and boxing as highlights of America. Jersey Shore and football.

Somehow this book makes the mundanity of my life glow.

Valerie’s response

Speaking of New Orleans, we are watching When the Levee Breaks. I thought this book was about Spain, not Paris? It has been about a dozen years since I read it. Remember European vibes and a woman named Bret. Which is also my brother’s name so it stuck with me because I thought it was a weird name for a female.

This was the first full length Hemingway I read, and I was surprised that his writing is so dry. By dry I mean plain, unembellished — noun/verb/noun sentence construction, limited use of literary devices. Yet somehow the storytelling moves you along in an exhilarating rush. He uses plain language to describe surreal times and places. I like how you say it: “stream of eventfulness without consciousness.”

God, I hate bullfighting! Pure machismo and animal abuse. I lived in Spain for six months and also went there on my honeymoon but could never bring myself to experience this cultural practice. Not that I would go see rodeo in the U.S. either… but this book makes the matador’s lives out to be gloriously romantic.

I read Farewell to Arms after this, I liked it better, even though I hate guns and war. The romance of it made me weepy, I recall… though I might have just been homesick when I read it while abroad.

Mike’s response

The Spike Lee film? Christ. That was hard to get through. Really good. Terribly sad. I think I was probably drunk though. New Orleans impressions: Wasn’t as hurting when I was there as it was made out to be. Though, remember, I live in Oakland, which might be the shittiest fucking place in the country. But, also, there were many warnings about areas which had been hit hardest not being very safe and I didn’t go there. Besides not wanting to deal with danger on what should be a pleasant trip, destruction-tourism is pretty sick. I wouldn’t want someone rolling through my neighborhood looking at how shitty my life is, especially if they’re not there to help. Like San Francisco, it’s a city which is just kinda thrown together, with no foresight or urban planning, which was disorienting, but awesome. We walked around a lake, I think, near Tulane and that was one of my favorite things from the whole trip. A Vietnamese sandwich at Cochon Butcher which was so rich I couldn’t finish it (which says a lot, cuz I eat crazy). Headcheese sliced half an inch thick. This is absolutely about Hemingway.

The majority of the book is in Spain, but they start in Paris and hang out there and do nothing for a while.

Does The Old Man And The Sea count as full-length? I liked it much more. “He uses plain language to describe surreal times and places.” There wasn’t much surreal going on here (TSAR). Yes, bullfighting, but the language picked up significantly then. My thinking has always been that every word is necessary in Hemingway (or others in similar styles). And that didn’t seem to be true here. There was a lot (relative use of the term there) of gushing and telling what was going on and emotional inner lives. It’s kinda where he started and maybe he didn’t quite have his shit honed all the way yet.

I’m glad you mention rodeo when talking about bullfighting. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people villainize someone for a cultural practice without recognizing their own societal shortcomings. I get animal rights (I know, anyone who says that doesn’t), but America has some fucked up shit going on too. Like talking about how horrible of a person Michael Vick is (he is, but not necessarily for dog-fighting, which, you know, is wrong, but is also normalized in parts of this country) while chomping down on a McNugget. I’m not always like this. I don’t know what my triggers are. It’s strange. Cuz I know I judge like a motherfucker. Irish Catholic, y’all.

In Spain, I would guess a matador’s life is gloriously romantic. I don’t think I can fault Hemingway for portraying that. (Have we talked about responsibility in writing? Whether he does have a responsibility to portray it as brutish? I think we have…)American football is pretty brutal and kinda awful (I fucking love it) and we completely glorify them and it’s probably pretty fucking great to be Victor Cruz (it’s never great to be Eli Manning) right now. (I know there’s a large difference between football, in which all are willing participants and bullfighting, in which only the humans are willing.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s