Mike Mcfarland's Reviews > The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
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Oct 21, 07

bookshelves: classics
Recommended for: anyone who loves Spain, France, or drinking heavily.
Read in July, 2003

A magnificent and deceptively simple book. If you judged it solely on its plot, you probably wouldn't come away very impressed: a collection of American ex-patriots travel from Paris to Pamplona for the running of the bulls; drink too much and make fools of themselves; then return to Paris a few weeks older and not much wiser. Where Hemingway really succeeds, though, is in capturing brief flashes of life that any reader will recognize.

Again, I'm hardly qualified to propose and defend a thesis on the book, so I'll write about what impressed me. To start, of course, there are all the scenes that describe the art and beauty of bullfighting. Hemingway makes it sound like a fierce and graceful competition between humanity and nature. I have to say, however, that when I actually saw a bullfight I didn't come away with that impression at all. The odds are (understandably) so stacked in favor of the bullfighter that the whole process seems more savage and brutal than anything else. Still, it was Hemingway's description that drew me to see the match in the first place, so it carries a great deal of romantic power. Beautiful to read, horrible to see.

There is also a scene where two of the characters go off to a small village to fish before the Running of the Bulls feast. The description of the guys hanging out, lazily fishing, and waiting for their bottles of wine to cool in the river really captures those moments in life where you stand back from yourself for a moment, look around, and say to yourself: "Goddamn! It's good to be alive!" Makes you want to go out there and fish yourself.

Finally, Hemingway really conveys the wild revelry of the feast itself. The writing comes in flashes, like memories of a great night out. Dancing with locals in a tavern. Sharing a wineskin while traveling between bars. Fumbling with your keys as you try to get back in your room. Trying to recover fast enough the next morning to start all over again that night. The book focuses on the consequences of this kind of lifestyle, as well, but being a half-full glass kind of guy draws me to the more enjoyable aspects of the book. An enormously fun read.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Barnes Mike, I think you got it. Hemingway told of an imperfect summer filled with imperfect characters making some bone headed mistakes like all of us make.
That's why they came off as real people.
Tom


Ally The brand new group - Bright Young Things - is nominating books to read in January & The Sun Also Rises is among them. Its the perfect place to discuss your favourite books and authors from the early 20th Century, why not take a look...

http://www.goodreads.com/group/invite...


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