Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Old Man and The Sea -- A Book Review

Many of you know that I participate in the 1% Well-Read Challenge and that we have just kicked off another year. That means that by the end of this year, I should be 2% well-read -- actually, I think I'll be about 10% if I include all the books I've ever read on the list outside of the challenge.

Anyhoo. This month I'm delighted to tell you about this little gem of a read by Ernest Hemingway. If you read it in school, I urge you to read it again.

The messages are many. The prose is simple and direct. The story captures and captivates you.

It's only 125 pages and takes only a few hours to read. I read the whole thing on the bus trip up to New York last week, while looking up every now-and-again to say to Jim and Jack, "You've got to read this. It's such a great story!

The book starts out with the old man who has fished his whole life on a skiff in the Gulf and he has gone 84 days without catching a fish.

Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.
p. 10

In the first 40 days, a boy had been with him but the boy's parents had said that the old man was salao -- the worst kind of unlucky -- and pulled the boy to another boat. It made the boy sad to see the old man working alone and so he continues to help him and, is truly, the man's one true friend. The boy loves and cares for the man who has taught him to fish.

He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women , nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. p. 25

The middle of the book takes place at sea, when the old man, alone, hooks the largest marlin he has ever seen in his life.

Now is the time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for. p. 40

It's larger than his boat and stronger than the old man, so the old man uses his wits, his knowledge of fish and the sea, and his will -- to perservere against the huge, beautiful fish over three days and two nights at sea, alone, with only two small bottles of water and a fish to eat.

I wish I had the boy. p. 45


He has tremendous respect for the marlin...

You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who. p. 92
But a man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated. Page 103
...and I will stop there. What happens next is poetic. But in case you haven't read it, I won't spoil it.

And my favorite line... To hell with luck, I'll bring the luck with me.

I couldn't put it down. A gem. Jim and Jack are both going to read it too.

Next up is Gone With the Wind...which I'm clap-my-hands excited about. I'm taking it with me next week when we go to Florida to visit my father. I expect a heck of a good read...and, of course, we'll have to re-watch the movie...

4 comments:

Judy S. said...

I enjoy your book reviews, Susan. You are increasing the height of my "earth quake detector" piles! Where in FLA are you going? By now it ought to be really warm there!

Heather J. said...

I checked this out from the library over a year ago, read the first two pages, and promptly lost the book. I really wanted to read it too, and your review reminds me why. I'll have to pick up a copy again sometime ...

Allison Ann Aller said...

Wonderful review, as always...
Now, on to Miss Scarlett!

Elizabeth Braun said...

I both love and hate this challenge. I love it 'cos I love reading and the idea of having the accolade of being 'x% well read' is very attractive. I hate it as FAR too many of the books are 20th and now even 21st century. It was compiled by a 20/21C literature specialist whose now deleted many of the few pre-20C titles he had on the list and never included anything other than novels. So, it's far too biased and un-balanced a list to be taken too seriously.=( I prefer 18/19C lit myself, so according to this chap, I get less and less well-read each time he updates his list!!!! I am reading a 20C book at the mo though.=)

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