In which I talk about what I finished, what I started, Hemingway, a Viennese masterpiece, and recognising the face of an old friend.
I have a new idea that I want to try for the following reasons:
- I read a lot of books at once
- I don’t talk about every book once I’ve finished it
- Throughout the process of reading a book, I have a lot of thoughts that I don’t necessarily remember/can’t fit in if I do end up doing a dedicated post about that book once I’ve finished it.
So for all of those reasons and more, I’m going to try to do a weekly update on Fridays (except today is Thursday but you’ll be reading it on Friday because I’m scheduling it for tomorrow).
We’ll see if it lasts.
This week wasn’t much for reading, because I was busy and also not feeling great, so we’re not exactly off to an auspicious start. Regardless:
The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
This was the longest short book I ever read! It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it—I did. It’s just that I kept reading other books in the middle of it. It didn’t grab me at all until last night (which is actually two nights ago for you), when I finally decided that I was going to finish it.
As soon as I finally buried myself in Hemingway’s prose and refused to let anything else distract me, I was as invested as the old man is in the giant marlin. This is one of those books that is never going to capture you if you only give it half of your attention.
I absolutely loved this book, and there were a lot of thought-provoking musings that the old man had throughout that will continue to stick with me.
What I’m about to say now is a semi-spoiler, so skip on if you’re afraid (but I think it’s kind of hard to spoil a book like this, where the plot is simple and almost secondary.)
I think it was very appropriate that the old man was not able to bring any of the marlin in, only its skeleton. It would have been nice if he had got money and glory from it, but that wasn’t his reason for killing the fish.
You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. (pg. 105)
On page 75, the Old Man even muses that no one is worthy of eating the fish. His purpose as a fisherman was to catch the fish, it’s a duty but even more than that; it’s simply something he must do. Actually bringing the fish in and selling it would have been nice too, but it would have been beside the point. Not a necessity.
I don’t know if that makes much sense, but that’s just one thought of many I had on this excellent book.
The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, by Anne-Marie O’Connor
I read about a quarter of this one. It’s not a book that I intend to read straight through; it’s one I’ll use, like many non-fiction books, to fill in the gaps when I’m not sure what else to read. I like non-fiction for that, because I can easily pick up right where I left off, unlike fiction, where you have to remind yourself what was happening. I’ve been reading David Starkey’s excellent book, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII in that manner for almost a year now, and I’m over halfway finished. So, I really shouldn’t be starting another fill-in book at this time, but when I saw this at Barnes and Noble, I couldn’t quite resist.
So far, it’s excellent. O’Connor develops a very thorough view of the cultural and social landscape in Vienna before and during Klimt’s work on his masterpiece. She manages to seamlessly weave together the many people and events and circumstances that make up the bigger picture of this painting’s story. Like Klimt’s masterpiece, there is a lot going on, but the overall effect is harmonious and pleasing.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo
How it is possible, with my intense love for Les Miserables, that I have not read anything else by Victor Hugo is confounding. But anyway, I’m remedying that, and I AM LOVING IT SO MUCH.
I started reading this book yesterday evening, and immediately knew that I was in love. Despite the fact that this book was written about thirty years before Les Miserables, Hugo’s style was instantly recognisable. I’d say that it was like recognising the face of an old friend, except that (a) that’s a cliche and (b) I have trouble recognising faces, including those of old friends.
Anyway, I instantly knew that this was a book I wasn’t going to be putting down any time soon, so I forced myself to finish The Old Man and the Sea (so glad that I did) and then got right back into it.
Unfortunately, I had a migraine last night (which was Wednesday night, actually) and had to stop reading and go to bed early, and then I had to work today (and by “today” I of course mean Thursday—dang it, this is too confusing). But, I read on all my breaks, and after I got home I was reading up until just now, when I stopped to write this post. The type is small and densely packed, but all things considered, I made it to Book II and I’m a good chunk in:
So far, Hugo has painted a very vivid picture of Medieval Paris and its people. This book also has a lot of humour, including a moment of amazing irony on pg. 54 that made me laugh out loud.
Anyway, I feel as enchanted as I did the first time I read Les Miserables, and that’s very exciting for me.
So that’s my update! How about you? What have you read this week or plan to read? Have you any thoughts on the stuff I talked about?
Have a lovely day!