Colette Ni's Reviews > The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
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Jan 26, 2012

it was amazing

'Written with a strange, hypnotic simplicity, it tells a story of human endurance against the vast, implacable force of the world with astonishing skill.' Colm Toibin (his quote) is one of Ireland's most respected writers and that sums up how I feel too. I have this litte book courtesy of the Irish Independent newspaper, which blessed readers with a series of 'Lifetime Reads' a while back, but my first introduction to it was as a teenager.

Having grown up by the sea in a fishing community, the changing moods of the sea is part of my (intangible) DNA, as it was of those seafaring men who were my ancestors. Some of the tales in my short story collections To Die or not to Die and To Live or not to Live, show just how much its force remains in me even here in the heart fo the central plain of Cyprus, far from the coasts of this island. I could so completely wrap my mind up in the folds of this story. Fishing can be a wasteful process like the men who catch and mutilate sharks for their fins and throw doomed fish back into the sea - waste. Like all the small fish thrown back not allowed to be kept by EU regulations but doomed to die anyway - waste. Like the nets that snare species that should not be caught in them - waste.

One of the first short stories I wrote a long time ago was to do with how man had to harvest under the sea, living there in big bubbles of activity after the earth had been raped so badly there wasn't much left to eat from it. What I loved about Hemingway's story is the old man's respect for his catch and the sadness he made me feel for both man and fish at the end result of his trials. I loved it. No holds barred. He was a man whose mother dressed him as a girl and he spent a great deal of his life trying to do the macho thing. Yet there is understanding and tenderness in what he writes that compliment his 'female' side as well as all the tough elements that proved to himself mostly, that he was a man all the way.
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