So I’m slogging through this Hemingway for graduate school and it’s not going well. It’s very boring to me, which makes me avoid it. It’s The Sun Also Rises.
I have to finish it by April 25 so I can write a paper about how Hemingway informs my own writing – I know, I know! – and it’s just murder. All this drinking and fishing and descriptions of the landscape. All these people talking to Jake Barnes and Jake Barnes being rather tight-lipped. He has some broken-dick thing from a war injury, you see, which makes him taciturn and quite the drunk.
I’m noodling along through this particularly boring passage about fishing in Spain (“I laid them out, side by side, all their heads pointing the same way, and looked at them. They were beautifully colored and firm and hard from the cold water…”), when comes this part, a conversation between Jake and this guy Bill (who’s Bill supposed to be? I dunno. People come in and out and more wine is ordered and then they leave or go dancing and it’s swell and everyone gets ‘tight’ and people say ‘Don’t be sore’ and maybe it’s F. Scott Fitzgerald and who cares):
“You’re right there, old classmate,” Bill said. “The saloon must go, and I will take it with me.”
“Well, maybe I am.”
“Want to take a nap?”
FREEZE. Okay, who else is getting a super duper huge gay vibe here? Also, there are no dialogue tags which make me want to scream, because the dialogue’s so opaque. Also, yes, you can get drunk on wine, Jesus. Just because it’s girly doesn’t mean two bottles don’t have alcohol in them. Back to the excerpt:
We lay with our heads in the shade and looked up into the trees.
“No,” Bill said. “I was thinking.”
I shut my eyes. It felt good lying on the ground.
AGAIN! Couldn’t we totally segue into some prime, manly gay sex here? It would be so natural. Smelling of fish and wine and the basket lunch they’d had. Right? Wouldn’t that be great? Didn’t F. Scott once show Hemingway his wang to ask if it was the proper size to please Zelda? It all flows like the Irati River!
But no. The passage moves into Bill asking some questions about Jake’s English lovahhhh Lady Brett Ashley, whom he cannot, er, love properly, because of his unspeakable-dick-problem, which, naturally, is the only thing in this book I can give a shit about. Jake’s dick problem is the main suspense driver in a book about drinking and fishing. Is that right?
I feel that I must be pawing on well-traveled ground here. That digging on Hemingway this late in the game is probably a bit lame. But I’m SUFFERING through this so hard! I have no context for respecting the story. And I’ve seen bullfights and they’re horrible, so that part holds little thrill. I’m just at the part before the unleashing of the Pamplona bulls. I’m betting they’ll watch the bulls and drink. Scintillating.
Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me it’ll be worth it. Make me a YouTube video called Hemingway: It Gets Better.