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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

[I'm going to retire on an island, fat and lazy. Who am I?]

I have finally decided why I don't like Hemingway. My utter dislike of his writing has always baffled me, one of those tiny things that randomly irk you when you are washing the dishes or something. One of those thoughts that bother you because you don't want to think about what's really bothering you.

Anyway, I'll be feeling better about it the next time I wash dishes because I figured it out. It's the repetition. Is the repetition of one word or phrase really all that powerful? I can see that sometimes saying something over and again can serve as a tool to develop a character, for instance, or to make a point. I like circular logic, and I even occasionally like it when someone pounds me over the head with a somehow subtle point. But I don't like Hemingway.

Don't get me wrong. I respect that he is a renowned author and that he had some pretty innovative things to say in and about the time period. I don't even really mind that he is often touted as a genius to high school and college literature classes. But I still don't like it.

See, the thing is, I don't feel like I'm more in a character's mind when they say the same thing over and over. I don't feel it's an effective way to demonstrate confusion. When a story is written in a third-person omnicient perspective, as many of Hemingway's works are, the point of the repetition is even further muddied for me.

And I resent anyone who says it's because I cannot relate to the conflicts in the time. I've read stories about murder and passion and boredom that I love. I relish in adventures in places I've never been to involving realities I may never encounter. I like DeSade even though I can categorically say I will never participate in at least 98 percent of the acts of debauchery he writes about. I love Twain even though I didn't grow up in the south.

But isn't that the point of writing? To invite me into the time period, to coax me into the world? I'm thirsty for someone to paint me a picture of the American Revolution, so I read propaganda pamphlets. I want to understand timeless fears for the future, so I read Orwell. I relish anything that invites me into the time or the feeling or the empty space of a broken mind a'la Crime and Punishment or Fight Club.

So don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm a literature hater.

But I think this whole realization of why I don't like Hemingway has opened a can of worms for me. For instance, since when has writing been elitist? I don't care if there was a war and you moved to France, that doesn't make your writing automatically good. Isn't writing supposed to be relatable?

Which brings up another point. I've got no problem with you liking Hemingway. Please, feel free to read every damn word he's ever written. But why the hell is everyone so pissed when I tell them I don't like him? I've got good arguments. I've got even more than I'm listing here, and we can have a discussion about it sometime, or even a lively debate.

But I think Hemingway blows. Hemingway blows, in my opinion. I opine, my dear friends, that Hemingway is the blowiest of blowers.

Was that effective?

[Jimmy Buffet. Duh.]

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