A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

First read: 8/05
Reviewed on: 8/6/05
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I did not like it.
I liked it.
I thought it one of the Best Novels of All Time

I was afraid of this book, because I hated The Sun Also Rises so much. A good storyteller can take a mundane event like scrambling an egg and make it into a gripping tale. Hemingway did the opposite for me in that book, he took interesting events and wrote about them in clipped sentences that made it all seem dull.

That style made A Farewell To Arms an interesting book. The narrator is so jaded that he writes about battles in a war with the same emotion that he writes about waiting in a room. And it works. Julie Schulz, a cellist friend from high-school, used to write free-verse poetry and told me the only reason she ever uses meter is to break it. Hemingway did that effectively in this book - when he started talking about being in love, his whole writing style changed. And, towards the end, when he started talking about fear (fear he never felt when being shot at, lined up to be executed, etc.) the style changed, too. This made the few times he felt extremely compelling.

I liked this book. I wish to god that I hadn't read it while sitting next to my sleeping wife who is nine months pregnant. I am writing on my laptop in bed, because I can't get to sleep, and she is snoring softly, occasionally caressing my back and saying, "sweetheart?"

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