Friday was National Book Lovers Day and since I blog on Sundays, I decided to do this a couple of days late. I had other books to read and write. Writers are like that.
There is no doubt I’ve always been a Hemingway fan – and I’ve always been drawn to the water. A good combination. I am sure one of my favorite books has always been Islands in the Stream, by Ernest Hemingway.
Published in 1970, nine years after Hemingway’s death, the book became controversial because he might or might not have actually written it that way. It was put together after his death and published. He left behind some 332 unpublished manuscripts. Some Hemingway fans say it was not the author’s authentic voice. I’ve read enough Hemingway to see a change in his voice as he aged and wrote. I think all writers change as they go along, mature, and age. I know my writing has changed (not that I’m comparing myself to Hemingway). But surely if Hemingway had been there at the publishing, some things would have changed. He was not.
The Cuba scene at the bar that Thomas Hudson frequented has been one of the most loved scenes Hemingway ever wrote. It encompasses several characters in a bar as they discuss their lives and politics. It is not easy to write a scene with that many characters, give them their own personalities, and not confuse the reader. But you felt like you were there drinking next to the regulars and listening to their stories.
I cried with Thomas died in the end (spoiler alert). He couldn’t die – I love him! I loved his adventurous nature and the way he met life head on. He’d lived life on his own terms as an artist making a living without the day-to-day grind of working for someone else. He was his own man. But all good things come to an end.
Whether or not the book was finalized as Hemingway would have thought it should have been, it still remained a Hemingway story. Islands in the Stream is about love of family; love of the ocean and nature; and love of living life on your own terms. It is about freedom and the things that come with it, some good and some bad.
So far, I think it is still my favorite book.
One thing I’ve learned in life is, if you like a book, read it again! You are sure to glean something new you didn’t see the first time.
What book do you think is your favorite – so far?