Saturday, August 12, 2006

I heart Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises: Check it off the Modern Library list. Not near as good as A Farewell to Arms, but a fitting exegesis on where a lost generation looks to find itself.

There aren't a lot of tremendously quotable moments in the book, but nonetheless, I couldn't put the book down. Hemingway's writing is so simple, terse, to the point. It's the kind of writing that I, as a journalist, hoped to emulate, but became hopelessly sidetracked in the glittering allure of commas, compound modifiers, and complex construction. It made me want to write again, not in the witty, foppish, hipster persona I've so desperately pursued, but directly, hiding nothing behind impressive words-of-many-syllables. And that's probably the greatest achievement an author can ever hope for his literature -- so, brava.

It's interesting -- although this is about expatriates bopping around Europe in the wake of WWI, so much of the dialogue, so many of his sentences remind me of trying to make a niche for myself in India. I'm not fiesta-ing for weeks on end, nor am I indulging in bull fights; but I did leave behind what was familiar because its very familiarity rankled, I drank not to taste the wine but for the inevitable descent into forgetfulness, the ways in which inebriation and foreignness allowed the pertinent to fade away.

Ew. Before I get too misty eyed, quotes:

"Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn't make any difference. I've tried all that. You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There's nothing to that."

[Hilarity ensues...if ONLY this was the case!] "'You're only a newspaper man. An expatriated newspaper man. You ought to be ironical the moment you get out of bed. You ought to wake up with your mouth full of pity...You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafes.'"

"It seemed like a fine philosophy. In five years, I thought, it will seem just as silly as all the other fine philosophies I've had. Perhaps that wasn't true, though. Perhaps as you went along you did learn something. I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about."

Muy bien. Taking a short break from the ML list for a collection of short stories from Punjab, which should be good. Then on to either Graham Greene or E.M. Forster's A Passage to India. Whatever would I do without books?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Weird coincidence, just read this post on Sun Also Rises too.