32. The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway (1925) 79 p.

that was quick

Prior to this, the only piece of Hemingway’s work I’d ever read was his short story The Killers, which was pretty good. The Torrents of Spring was his first novel (or novella, since it’s only 79 pages long) and thus seemed a good place to start with the rest of his works. I have to admit I’m not quite sure what to make of it. The first half was strange and bizarre, while the second half was peppered with “author’s notes,” and I couldn’t for the life of me decide whether they were supposed to be facetious or not. The foreword indicates that this is apparently meant to be a satirical novel poking fun at somebody called Sherwood Anderson, while the Wikipedia article leads me to believe that I may have been reading the wrong book after mentioning that one of the characters takes mescaline and hallucinates that he is the President of Mexico, which never happened. Either Wikipedia is not the factual stalwart I hold it to be, or my edition of the book was published during a time of stern censorship.

Whatever. I’m sick of working my way through an endless catalogue of literature and having to judge every book based upon what everybody else thinks, usually because I end up being bored by it and feeling inadequate, as though I’ve missed something (i.e. The Sheltering Sky). Well, I like Hemingway’s writing style. It’s simple and uncluttered, which is great, even if I do personally prefer the extravagent visual descriptions from the Michael Chabon school of prose. I’m not sure if I liked The Torrents of Spring all that much, though; it’s a puzzling book, and for a good proportion of it I thought Hemingway was trying to portray one of the main characters as mildly retarded, with passages like this:

“The engineer wore goggles. His face was lit up by the light from the open door of the engine. He was the engineer.”

Turns out the character in question is actually quite an academic.

Anyway, I once again find myself beset by the feeling that the entire point of a literary classic has swooped right over my head. Still, Hemingway is clearly a gifted writer (doyyyyyy) and I’ll continue to read through his works.

Books: 32/50
Pages: 9729