Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Review - The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

I finished Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises last night. As I noted a couple of days ago, this is one of the classics that I wanted to go back and read; I know I read it in school, but that was a long time ago. When halfway through, I wrote that I was having an Emperor's New Clothes moment, and now having finished the book, I haven't really changed my mind. I have tried to talk myself into liking it more, and also asked myself whether I am being overly harsh, but I don't think so. Reading some of the gushing reviews on Amazon, I have to admit that I just don't get it. I don't intend to get into a debate with myself over its place as a literary landmark, what came before, imitators that came after and all that. As a book, standing alone by itself, read by me in 2010, it was just ok. Good but not great. Average.

Amparo and I talked about it a little bit at dinner tonight, and she kind of chuckled and said that Jake Barnes was having an inner struggle. If it is an inner struggle, it is buried so deep inside as to leave no visible clue as to what is actually going on or why. Nor, after 250 pages, did I care in the least.

3 stars out of 5. I considered 2.5, but I'll stick with 3. Call me generous...

Books read in 2010: 5 (totalling 1,175 pages)
Books by new authors: 4 (Canin, Harding, Updike, and I am claiming Hemingway a first as an adult)
Books published in 2010: still none
Classics read: 1

This makes me want to go back and read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which I read once in high school and once in college and liked both times.


  1. I have never had the pleasure of reading The Great Gatsby. Perhaps I should?

  2. Check back in a few days and I'll tell you what I thought 20 years down the road...

  3. sun also rises...we just must disagree. won't go into a hemmingway dissertation, as i am sure you understand the book, or at least would be reminded of a former understanding. at least you acknowledte its (his) seminal place

    great gatsby...not as good a book, but ssuch beauty in fitzgerald's writing. the sauce had not impacted his voice yet. in any case has what must be the most beautiful closing sentence - at least in american literature. "and so we beat on, boats against the current bourne ceaselessly back to the past."

    arm chair general... - YES you should. it is not long and his style very accessable.

  4. I was in Paris. We drank. Then we went to a club and drank some more. And talked about how drunk we were. Then we went to Spain. And drank some more. And talked about how drunk we were. And then we went back to France. And drank some more. And then I went back to Spain by myself. And drank some more. And went to Madrid to fetch Brett. And drank some more in Madrid. The End.

  5. please do not forget:

    and as i drank, i wanted to get with brett, and she wanted to get with me, but i could not, and she had needs which were met by men other than me, but with whom i nevertheless drank. deeping my depression, which only my aficion could clear. but since i could understand the sport of my aficion, but not act upon it, yet the young matador who could perform but yet whose action showed a lack of aficion, COULD get with my brett, i drank more, many of those drinks with my brett...and her matador, and others on whose horns i had been metaphorically gored...

    its easy to make fun of. but there IS a point to all of it. if only to use an alcoholic blur and the willingness to continue as an allegory.