Thursday, February 7, 2008


I didn't like Ernest Hemingway because I knew he liked bullfighting. I didn't like bullfighting because they spear the bull's back to jam its spine and tire it. If a guy wants to fight a bull, I'm all for that (like these wonderful Portuguese fools proving manhood by madness). But attacking with a horse riding gang and killing the bull even if it wins is unfair.

Hemingway. I thought Old Man and the Sea was boring. I read The Sun Also Rises because my friend's brother and sister recommended it during a spontaneous session of listing good books. I like the lot of them.

It's about expatriates living in Paris who take a trip into Spain for a fiesta. All of the men are in love with the promiscuous, attractive, short-haired Brett. Conflict ensues in a long series of repressed conversations and drunken accusations.

I enjoyed the language, particularly the many conversations of natural and brief dialogue. I left the book thinking in quips. I didn't care for the plot because I don't look to fiction to recreate reality and this story was semi-autobiographical. Fortunately, it offered some interest as a historical text. Later, via wikipedia, I would discover that this book created awareness of the famous 'running of the bulls' in Pamplona. The events, particularly the bullfighting, provided tasteful, subtle metaphors for the character's lives. There's plenty for my inner high school student to overlook and discover years later on a chance second reading. This is the quintessential book of 'the Lost Generation', those living in the disillusioned wake of the Great European War. I feel that most great literature is rooted in a severe personal journey. The struggle for the writer to admit. I don't feel the direct heat of Hemingway's battle with his own demons but the traces left behind are truthful. There are so many peculiar details in the book that it has the feel of a documentary.

That's the approach I would have taken to making it into a movie. There's no way that this overproduced Hollywood version could be any good. It lacks grit. As director, my actors would have to be able to handle their booze because I'd make sure they were drunk for most of the film. Or, as they say in the book, "tight".

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