Pairs Well With:
A glass of Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond 100 Proof Bourbon; a sharp, stinging, straight for the gullet spirit that matches the frank, “in your face” prose iconic of Hemingway.
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Rating: 4 out of 5 shots
Santiago, a weathered Cuban fisherman, is approaching the end of his life. While still able-bodied enough to get around on his own, he has doubts about himself and if there is anything left in life to overcome. Told in beautifully simplistic prose, this heaving metaphor showcases the Old Man’s struggle against the elements, a prize beyond belief, and the forces that eat away at a fortune thought conquered.
This is certainly one of the most iconic of Hemingway’s works, and its short reading length makes it easily accessible to a wide scope of readers. The prose is no more revolutionary than For Whom the Bell Tolls or any of his other works, but the simplicity of it makes applicable a large scope of human emotion and experience that otherwise might go undefined.
The pacing, while a little lengthy and ambling at points, is always in a state of forward motion, but that’s nothing compared with the metaphoric inward journey the Old Man undergoes in his struggle on the sea. Reading between the lines and interpreting the visual queues leaves the audience with a sense of awe and inspiration at what can be accomplished at any point in our lives. More than any self-help course, this piece of literature serves to awaken the ambition of all and the perseverance of legends.
With the main cast comprised of the Old Man, the small boy, a larger-than-life fish, and a school of sharks, there is little expectation that much could happen, but Hemingway uses these mediums as a means of exploring the inner world of the “every man”, and he uses them expertly. If read in spurts, this piece will seem to be stale: lacking and lackluster, failing to deliver the punch to the gut that the author was aiming for. It is only when read in its entirety, in a single sitting that the magnitude of this journey can be felt, and the resounding imagery be mulled upon.
Building on The Cheers, this is truly a piece that should only be read in a single sitting. For those looking for more of a leisurely read – though not the most intense, nor flashiest of pieces – this book will seem very dull. A man on a boat, chasing a fish, and fighting off sharks.
Not much to it, is there?
So, this is certainly not for those looking for light reading, or a story that can easily be forgotten after the last page is turned. It takes some insight, some serious thought and introspection to truly appreciate this volume. For this reason, it may prove difficult for a large number of readers to enjoy.
Corking the Bottle:
The Old Man and the Sea is certainly a “must read” for everyone, at some point in their lives. The snappy prose and diminutive stature of this classic will appeal to most readers, and who wouldn’t love to say they’ve read at least one of Hemingway’s most iconic pieces?
While the subject matter overtakes the length of this volume by fathoms, it can be appreciated on a multiplicity of levels, furthering its necessity for exposure to this young generation of readers, especially. And there is no doubt that when the subject is brought up, having read this book, everyone will be able to weigh in on the grand question: “Why was he set on catching the fish?”