Monday, September 20, 2010
Old Lady: Why are you speaking this way? It is not good.
I am speaking this way to teach you. How else are you to learn?
Old Lady: Perhaps, but I don't like it.
Sometimes you have to dislike something in order to understand.
Okay, so what the heck am I talking about? This is a little snippet in my own words what "Death in the Afternoon" is like. I'm not going to knock Hemingway, and I did not intend to do so with the words above. I am simply presenting you a glimpse of what this novel is - so you may choose if it suits you or not.
Keep in mind that Hemingway is my favourite author. There is no one better. Sure, there is a lot of booze. There are short sentences. There are women, which many criticize based on over simplicity. This is who Hemingway is. There is nothing wrong with him. There is nothing wrong with his work. Hemingway's non-fiction is not the same, because there is no dialogue. Hemingway admits to this. But it is evident that Hemingway is very perceptive, whether correct or incorrect (based on your own opinions), and this book is a nice work of detailing what bull fighting may be.
However, it lacks something. Missing is the feeling you get when you read a fictional work by Hemingway. The emotion is there, but the characters are not - they exist but are lost in details. Details are not Hemingway's forte. Hemingway's forte is a feeling you get when you hear the truth, but not just the truth. The feeling is a live creature, which exists only as you read the pages. It lives in your soul and you cannot describe why, but you cannot shake it. It is not you, but has something that you want to be or something that will never be able to be seen again. This is Hemingway, and "Death in the Afternoon" does not have this. Hemingway knows this.
I ask myself why he wrote this work, and the answer is simple as well as alluded to. Nothing like it ever existed, and while not thinking he was qualified as an expert, he knew that he had some important things to say on the subject and I believe he just wanted to get it all out. The information was there to be told, however incomplete.
The book contains many details on technique, history of bullfighters and cities of Spain. You and I will not understand much of this, but Hemingway does tell us in the book that going beyond a certain chapter without knowledge of bullfighting will not be helpful. He is right in this.
The book contains humour, which I enjoy. There is a part where he tells rich people who think they will hate a bullfight to sit up close because after their pre-conceptions have poisoned them and something occurs in the ring to reinforce the pre-conceptions, they can vacate their expensive seats so someone else can get a good seat that could not afford to do so.
There is also a random part about an Old Lady, which I have mentioned above. I am not sure if this is supposed to be funny, but it is frivolous.
My review is random sounding with facts - the truth as I see it. This is an objective of this review, because it will teach you what this book is about. You will be prepared, which is more than I can say for myself.
Just like you should not see a bullfight from up close first in Madrid, you should not read this book first if you have not read Hemingway before. This book is for seasoned Hemingway vets. This is not meant to demean you if you do not fall into this category, but just to warn you. Do what you like, but this is the opinion I have on the matter.
Also, if you have pre-conceived notions about bullfighting, please buy a book and vacate your seat in the affair so someone else may be able to have the book who cannot afford it, when your pre-conceived notions on the subject are validated. Hemingway would like this.