Sunday, July 5, 2009

book review - Old Man and the Sea

I finally read Old Man and the Sea, for the first time, taking it seriously, after years of ignoring the book and the author, as some boring mainstream pop culture hoopla.

My instincts said: Hemingway's stories were over-admired and misogynistic, about baseball and war with no real pizazz or pragmatism for escape; that my life would be better off without them.

Boy, was I wrong.

Old Man and the Sea is not about an old fisherman trying to catch fish, even though it really is just that too.

Explaining the beauty of its decadent meter is like trying to explain how the multicolored facets give luster and depth to a fine diamond, or why the robustness of an aged Port with its subtleties of smoke and asparagus fall so well on the glass and tongue. As an adult there's a beauty in simplicity that makes more sense than when we are younger and more impulsive.

Old Man and the Sea is a lesson in the appreciation of rhythm, like in the sounds of cicada approaching and withdrawing intensely while standing in grass near a tall tree'd landscape--in the flawless white powder covered back yard feeling smooth and blinding on the eyes in the morning crawl of a lazy day; in the whisper of an intuitive lover before climax, framing the moment into rapturous memories oft remembered before some nights of rest.

In other words: as experience refines the palate--maturity and elegant simplicity are Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea.

Here, a few lines that wrecked me into reverently triple reading them:

"The old man carried the mast on his shoulder and the boy carried the wooden box with the coiled, hard-braided brown lines, the gaff and harpoon with its shaft. The box with the baits was under the stern of the skiff along with the club that was used to subdue the big fish when they were bought alongside."

Those very lines had me optimistic in imagining reading them to my future children before bed; they gave me hope for raising progeny in what has felt like a falling apart feeling world; with its poetry in a story about a man and his quest to catch the perfect marlin making the world seem lighter; less intense.

1 comment:

Trenchless Sewer Repair said...

"The Old Man and the Sea" brings us a new awareness not only of age...and what it means to struggle...but also tells us that we are all in the same struggle...against the grim reaper who will come for all of us someday...and despite our efforts...will win the last fight...However, Hemingway knew that the only way to truly win in life was to create something of value...something that would stand the test of time...and he succeeded with this great work...

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