The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

This post is in the theme “Constructing an identity through media”. Read the first.

August 27, New York: It’s funny that we have high school kids read this book. Funny considering how much of the book is dedicated to inebriation. And for some of us, reading in high school, we were unfamiliar with the details of such topics. And when we made jokes to our English teachers about keeping up with the characters drink for drink, we were roundly laughed at as inexperienced in our aspirations to lushiness. I honestly, today, cannot imagine drinking that much that often without dying. But I loved reading The Sun Also Rises then and I loved reading it now.

ErnestHemingwayCAT
Look at this handsome fella, with his cat! Thanks to @VLoustalot for finding this.

The Sun Also Rises is, of course, the perfect inspiration for traveling to or living in Europe. For me and a few friends it served as the backbone of our own European trip in college (a story I’m sure is true for about fifteen thousand of those trips a year). Thanks to this book, I desperately wanted to spend my life in exile in Paris and very nearly did so, but more on that in later posts.

In this post, we’re still focused on teenaged Andrew and his first experience with Jake Barnes and company. At that age, I wanted so badly to hang out with these very fun people. To drink and laugh and travel with them. To have grand adventures and loud, boisterous dinners. I wanted to fall in love with Lady Brett Ashley, with her clever short hair and her careless discarding of men. Brett is one of the first fictional characters that set me up for poor decision-making about relationships and romance.

Reading The Sun Also Rises as an adult, the only part of the book I want to join the characters for is the fishing trip in Spain with Bill Gorton. To my adult eyes, Pamplona seems like a shit-show and Paris seems dour and desperate. But on the river? They eat well, they get lots of sleep, they drink wine during the day, they catch fish. And Bill is hilarious.

I do love to read Hemingway, though and reading this was a treat. This book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, his short stories— his prose is as crisp and refreshing as the river Jake and Bill go fishing in. For some reason, though, he’s the one writer I’ve loved whose style I’ve never tried to imitate. I don’t know why. Probably I am just a bit of a rambler.

You’ve read this book already, of course. But if you, like me, let your copy slip out of your collection, buy one and have it around like a good, old friend.

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