Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another Bad Choice in Men

WHY do  I read Hemingway?!? Why do I think that he'll change, be different this time? That he's maybe learned from his past, turned over a new leaf, learned how to be -- well, if not happy, then a little less of a waiter announcing that the special today is Life is Shit soup?

I don't need happily ever after and rainbows and puppies. I don't. Two of my favorite authors are Flannery O'Connor and Cormac McCarthy, not exactly people you'd want volunteering on the Samaritans hotline. But Flannery, bless her, had a sense of humor, a wry attitude toward the grotesque in people. She kicked you in the guts, slapped you hard,  but she at least gave you dialogue that made you smile. Not a bad accomplishment while you're dying of lupus.

And Cormac, while he's written some of the most relentlessly wrenching and painful stuff I've ever read, manages to slide some redemption into the agony. It's as if he's saying,"Life can be brutal, merciless, and the innocent suffer in complete injustice, but there is also beauty and grace all around us, too. People can be terrible, but they can also be holy and decent through simple acts of everyday kindness. The human spirit is frail but so terribly strong, too, in its capacity to survive and love."

Hemingway, on the other hand, is a maudlin, petulant, pan in the ass who seems to take pleasure in creating stories in which nothing good can possibly happen. He goes out of his way to piss in everyone's Cheerios, and you just know he enjoys doing it.  In his view of life, nobody is allowed to be happy except in the fleeting, stolen moments that only serve to underscore their doom. He's the depressive friend who wallows and refuses any attempt to get them to lighten up because they think that being unhappy is somehow Important. Hemingway just wants us all to check into in his personal flea-bitten Vale of Tears Motel like cheap dial-a-whores, to sit there with him and stare at the snowy TV while getting drunk and playing a greasy card came called Poor Me, I Feel Things So Deeply.

I'll finish this book, Ernest, but after this it's over between you and me. I hope that wherever you are, the Austen sisters are making you miserable.


karen said...

Ya. Um. It was the best of reads, it was the worst of reads.

Little secret: I have read a few first few words of Hemingway but, outside of something completely unrelatable in high school, he just seemed bitter and male. And I'm not big on either. So I fail at the Hemingway thing.

There's hope, though. When I lived in Paris, I went to the Picasso museum and, despite being completely non-plussed by the man's work before, was wowed and humbled right there in the whatever arronidissement.

So maybe if I get Hemingway reads right to me, I'll feel something other than meh.

What?! He's dead!? Oh. Well.


JC said...

YES! Bitter and male! Can I hire you to express my thoughts exactly?!?!?

karen said...

Nope. I work for you for free.