A writer must first have a passion for life before developing and wielding a talent for words. This is the nearest I’ve come to crediting a book’s quality to life itself rather than to the writer. Yet Hemingway deserves any lavished praises because I would not have realized this possibility otherwise.
My guess is that all the pompous literary snobs out there bypass this passion for life. They don’t possess it. So they displace their desire for passion onto words. I wonder if they are aware of this when they criticize and belittle work that falls short of their standards; like young, punk bikers donning leather jackets and chaps imitating the cliche rough image and getting in fights with those bikers who revere and respect the road.
I thought of
On The Road
while reading this. Like a reporter, Hemingway allows the heart of expatriation, the Lost Generation, speak for itself. In a way, the book seems to foreshadow the Beat Generation, Grunge, etc. And thank God these sentiments always cycle back around. Or is it cyclical, as Hemingway’s epitaph from Ecclesiastes indicates? What if this “generation” exists in every time? Do we only notice it and label it when it bears pleasing fruit? If there is no one to produce it, does that mean the sentiment of discontent and purposelessness is not there? Ah, to be a writer without any noteworthy experience. Yet these expatriates forged their experience from the fires of passion in life.
Nothing in the plot or characterizations surprised me or astounded me; the Romanesque bull fights, Brett’s rogue relationships, Robert Cohn’s tactless romanticism, the cafe gorging. But Jake’s expression of love for Brett intrigued me. It was truly selfless in its contrast from Cohn’s obsession, Mike’s ownership or Romero’s usefulness. I would have felt sympathy for Jake if he seemed at all burdened by it. To him it must have just been another aspect of life.
I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about.