Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Beating the heat

So what do you do on a Wednesday night when it's too hot to stir and you have a migraine?

Well, you sleep a lot. Then, when the headache eases, you read. Tonight's book was "Across the River and into the Trees" by Papa himself -- the late, great Ernest Hemingway.

Contemporary critics hated the book. They called it "self-parody," said it was unworthy of Hemingway's talent. Said he was washed up.

Naturally, I had to check it out. The jury is still out, but it's not that bad.

Papa proved the nattering nabobs wrong by writing "The Old Man and the Sea" three years later. It won the Pulitzer and helped Hemingway win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

"Across the River" is about an aging American colonel who finds love too late with a 19-year-old girl in Italy. I'm enjoying it. It's dark, it's moody and elegiac, and definitely isn't Papa's best work. But you can't write "The Sun Also Rises" every time you sit down at the typewriter.

Hemingway was the best American writer of the 20th Century. His terse, choppy prose revolutionized literature. Most of it still rings true today.

His genius is most apparent in his short stories. "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" may be his best. "Snows of Kilimanjaro" is haunting and most of the Nick Adams stories are keepers. I still hope to get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan one of these days. Maybe next summer.

It's sad to think of how this great talented finished his life -- hurting, depressed, lonely, unable to write. Anti-depressants could have saved him, but they weren't available in 1961. He thought a shotgun to the head was the only solution. Still can't help but wonder what stories died with him that day.

Guess that's enough for tonight. Time to drink a cold glass of tea and get cool.

I hate this heat.

2 Comments:

Blogger thinkingasiwrite said...

Yeah it's hot, that's for sure. I guess the best relief would be to move to Iraq for even a few days, maybe wear some of the protective clothing, goggles, helmets and masks....I have a feeling when we returned home we might feel like we were living in a rather cool climate.

Guess that's just one more reason to be thankful for America. And I can't help but think about our soldiers when I'm out in the heat. So, in that light, if it reminds us to pray for them more: I hope the heat continues all year! =)

Ok...this is enough of a comment on a blog that really wasn't even asking for comment...=)

8:17 PM  
Blogger thinkingasiwrite said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:30 PM  

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