Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, Hemingway’s magnificent fable is the story of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish.
It was The Old Man and the Sea that won for Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature. Here, in a perfectly crafted story, is a unique and timeless vision of the beauty and grief of man’s challenge to the elements in which he lives.
This was our book club read for August, something I wouldn’t have picked for myself but that’s what book club is all about. This was the first Hemingway book that I’ve read and it didn’t really make me go looking for more. However, it’s short and sweet at just over 100 pages depending on which version you’ve got, so doesn’t last too long.
There are two things that immediately stick out for this book, firstly no names are used; the Old Man is just the Old Man and the Boy is the Boy and secondly there no chapters or any real natural breaks. For someone who likes to read in chapters that was a problem.
I did wonder who the Old Man was and what his relationship with the boy was. I think they were related; maybe his grandson as they did share a close relationship.
With an unsuccessful fishing record this old man is out to prove something…whether that’s to himself, the boy or the other fisherman who knows? It’s a short story of a battle between the old man and the sea and the big fish he hooks. I’m sure there’s something deep and meaningful meant to be taken from this book – maybe perserverance for something you want and know you can achieve given enough time but it’s your own interpretation.
Overall, there’s a couple of quite exciting paragraphs but a lot of fishing and baseball talk. You’ll feel sorry for the Old Man, feel the isolation and the frustration of the sea but overall not one I think I’d recommend even if it did win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Find out more about Ernest Hemingway here