Context: finished this on our AirAsiaX flight from Stansted to Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian food was lovely.
This is not a well-known Hemingway as far as I’m aware. Nevertheless, it’s vintage Hemingway in pretty much every respect.
There’s the sea, boats, fishing, latino culture, guns, men and death. What more could you want?
It’s very much a tragic story of a life that goes bad more through chance than anything else. But go bad it does. On the way, a few ancilliary characters are thrown in. They aren’t fleshed out much. What, after all, in Hemingway ever is? But there are a couple of remarkable passages later in the book where the inner thoughts, fears and hopes of these are laid bare. It’s quite moving.
The message throughout is that morality is clouded by economic necessity and judgments about behaviour often fail to take this into account. Capitalism, arguably, is therefore culpable for criminal activity, not the individual human soul.
And this passage in particular, bearing in mind Hemingway’s own end, is very poignant:
[guns] those admirable American instruments so easily carried, so sure of effect, so well designed to end the American dream when it becomes a nightmare, their only drawback the mess they leave for relatives to clean up
Well worth the read but, because it’s Hemingway and his standard is so very high anyway, it only gets a “good” from me.
You know how it is there early in the morning in Havana with the bums still asleep against the walls of the buildings; before even the ice wagons come by with ice for the bars?
A large white yacht was coming into the harbour and seven miles out on the horizon you coul see a tanker small and neat in profile against the blue sea, hugging the reef as she made to the westward to keep from wasting fuel against the stream.
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