Monday, July 2, 2018
When I picked up The Sun Also Rises (also from a Little Free Library) all I knew about it was that a friend of mine hated the bull fighting scenes. So there I sat, old book spine cracked in my hands, getting ready to read a book that I thought was about bull fighting.
If you've ever taken a college English class you're familiar with Hemingway's sparse writing. There's no fuss, no muss. His characters appear as flesh and blood, his places are pulsing with life, with sun, with dirt, with sweat. There's nothing flowery here. No multi-syllable words unless the story required something written in French or Spanish. Hemingway shows us real life with the veneer stripped off, in all it's gore and glory.
I grew up reading fantasy. I love being transported from "real life" to some magical realm that begs for beautiful descriptions and the strange and unusual. I run from books that people suggest that have anything to do with "a woman who faces a tragedy and must find the strength to over come it." I see that every day. I live it, breathe it, watch it, have experienced it. And, yes, we can argue that all stories are ultimately about characters facing challenges and finding the inner strength to fight things that, underneath the monster facade is really just a metaphor for an every day struggle. But what Hemingway does is present us with people and places and plops us down beside them, between the backseat, getting grit between our front teeth, and eavesdropping on conversations that you walk way believing actually happened.
He doesn't try to give us someone facing a tragedy and digging deep for the strength to go on. He gives us flawed human beings, like me, like you, who are living life. They make poor choices, they enjoy themselves, they get into fights, they eat, drink, catch fish, have affairs, love, and hate. What he did was exactly what he set out to do: find the truest sentence he could write and write it. He makes me realize that there is beauty in the every day and that is what I should be seeking. There's nothing wrong with fantasy; I still love it, but the challenge isn't world building but showing this world as true as we can, through our unique lens. Hemingway writes about war, fishing, love, hate, men, women, and those damned Hills Like White Elephants. He writes about you and me and everyone in between. And isn't that really where our fantasies lie?
This Summer I want to learn more about that "one true sentence" that's sitting inside me. It's out there, sitting on the jetty just north of the lighthouse. It rolls in and out with the tide. It's on the fresh sliced watermelon and on the ice in the glass just after finishing a mojito. They wait, not buried beneath mounds of the unexpected but right there, to the left, of that dirty fork in your sink.
Do you find it hard to write in the Summer? Have you ever binge-read an author? Do you prefer bare bones prose or long, lingering descriptions? What about that "one true sentence"? Any thoughts?
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