I was introduced to Ernest Hemingway while still a school boy by my brother Phil. “A Farewell to Arms”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Sun Also Rises” were what lead me on to further exploration of Mr. Hemingway’s writing. Although A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls deals with different wars, WWI and the Spanish Civil war, for me they both had much the same feel. The protagonist in the first was an American driving an ambulance for the Italian army and in the second a demolition expert for a Republican guerilla unit that was fighting the fascists that were backed by the Nazis and the Italians lead by Mussollini. In The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway writes about American and British ex-patriots living in Paris and Spain in the 1920’s.In all probability, had I read The sun Also rises first, I might never have read the others. After these three I bought a copy of “The Old Man and the Sea”. In my opinion this is one of Ernest Hemingway’s better works. It is every bit as good on the tenth reading as it was on the first. The story of Santiago the fisherman and his struggle with old age and meaning is the last major work published by Ernest Hemingway and I can’t help but see some parallels with the writer’s own life. This is one of the few Hemingway stories that were successfully turned into a quality movie and it was done twice. Once with Spenser Tracey and the second time with Anthony Quinn. Ernest Hemingway novels do not seem to translate well onto the screen, in part I believe it’s his style and in part it’s not being able to find a screen writer able to make the transition. Later on I discovered Ernest Hemingway’s novellas and magazine stories. Short fiction is in itself a difficult art form. You are telling the same story in a much shorter period of time. I had a conversation with Bill Roberson once and we were discussing song writing and the ability of some people to tell a story in a few verses, to me that talent and writing short fiction are very similar. The genre of music where this seems most prevalent is country music. For the sake of clarity, when I say country music, I mean classic country, mountain music, bluegrass and some forms of folk music. If you listen to some of the traditional music out of Ireland and the British Isles and then listen to some sure enough old time mountain music from the Appalachians, you can see where country and bluegrass get their start. Bill always said if you didn’t like country music then you didn’t like life, because that is what it is about. Maybe in my next life I will learn to play the banjo and the bagpipes, just not at the same time.
Thus ends this weeks book report and music tutorial.