Before I begin to take you down this path, please allow me to preface the adventure with my questionable reasoning. I would never presume to question the genius of Ernest Hemingway. This voyage into reviewing one of his early works is not entirely bound by ego either. I read prolifically and I thought that to share some of my adventures might edify the many authors who seem to dote on their own abilities or lack therein without giving much thought to the genius that has prceded them. I might even go so far as to say, most writers that I read today aren't reading contemporary fiction much less the classics and I fear that I must admit that I can see this short-coming in their works. Hopefully, my brief report can motivate someone to pick up the book and judge for themselves. I welcome your views.
I read 25 to 30 books each year, plus write my own works. Shut Up and the sequel are a part of that endeavour. I read 7-10 classics to enhance my art and am trying the BLOG system of publishing for the first time with this love in mind. I love to read and I hope that you do too.
The Sun Also Rises is a very fast piece of fiction and can be read with little time expended. This would certainly be a plus for most readers who find that size can be their most formidable challenge. Hemingway's extremely liquid descriptive style would make a post card pleasant to read, so don't take any criticism to heart as discouragement towards giving this work a try. The book was read by this reviewer first at the raw age of 14 and I am retreading the Cadillac at 43 with no regrets.
Ernest treats us to great emotional characters in dramatic colorful European settings. It is not difficult to find oneself transformed from hustling through 2003 to a 1940's Spain with minutes of turning the first page. The authors ability to describe literally the visual taste and sound of the country and the times is utterly phenomenal. I could smell Paris as the book opened. I acn say with a smile that few writers could bring the experience closer to the reader's senses than he could manage.
Hemingway also brings the reader to a refined new understanding of some very distinct lifestyles. His hero has shelved his Americanism after being disabled in WWI while supplementing his well heeled allowance with limited writing. The gang of friends that we meet in the pages of this novel each falls near to the hero's character with varying excentricities and prideful alcoholism. His apparent love moves freely from man to man until the doomed fate of falling deeply for a bullfighter simply to be rescued by our hapless hero- hapless in that he has an injury from the war that precludes him becoming romantic with his love. The alcohol seems to drown his bitterness.
All of the characters are very much alcohol bound and this makes sense since Hemingway was also extremely fond of the bottled depressant. the crew operates very much on the positive side of humanity without any alcohol based error in fact. This adds to the romance of the novel rather than subtracting from it's beauty. With his excellent artistry with description, Hemingway weaves his tale through this quagmire leaving most readers unaware of the cause and effect basis of the problem. It is said that the heroine of the tale is representative of Ernest's first wife. I truly hope not, though I suspect the statement is more true than false.
To close, I suggest that if you are considering a book written strictly based upon adventure and experience, this is a must read. For period pieces based in Europe- BRAVO! But, I must also offer some footnoted warnings. First, don't expect the movie in this book. It is not remotely there. Also, don't expect a strictly formulated piece of fiction. I had finished the book before I realized that there really is no underlying story or theme to grasped by it. The book is entirely based on experience and description leaving the reader to dig deep to make the story out of reiterated nuances of the story matter. It is done quite beautifully and seasoned readers (or writers) will still enjoy the trip, but don't expect the consequential tale written with a strict timeline to go begin, middle, end like you might suspect. It won't.
The beauty of the work in it's strength which I feel are character developement and description. I think if your quota can raise two percent by reading this book in these categories, then it is a must read. In fact, I will be reading something newer in the Hemingway library soon to see if I can bring my own ability in either category up three percent. Just don't expect entire fulfillment from the work.