Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hemingway's True at First Light - So Far

I've knocked off the first two chapters (and the introduction) of Hemingway's True at First Light. (I've blogged here about my difficulty with the book. It's not that it's a difficult read; none of Hemingway's books are. It's just that the book commits the cardinal sin of being boring.) That brings me to page 64 which is a good stopping place for now.

I have to admit, though, once I pushed on through the places where I've halted my reading before, things went a little more smoothly. Oh, sure, it's still boring - we're mainly going from one place to another stalking and shooting and butchering game, while intertwining the three plot threads of Hemingway's wife, Mary, and her hunt for a lion, Hemingway's silly infatuation with a much younger African girl, and the threat of assault by escaped Kamba Mau Maus - hey, wait a minute, I just described a pretty good story there, didn't I?

Knowing this is a posthumous publication that doesn't benefit from the author's own editing, I can't shake the feeling that what I'm reading is strictly first-draft material. But it's first draft material that's shot through on occasion with brilliance. Hemingway's understated and precise descriptions of landscape and weather are without match. And though I have no desire to hunt down and kill animals, I'm enjoying more than I thought I would the details of the safari. (Hey, it's almost like I'm at Disney's Animal Kingdom on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride!)

But a deal's a deal: my goal is to take this thing at 50 pages at a time and I've done that. Time to move on to what's next on my reading list. Surprise, surprise, I'm looking forward to returning to this.

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