David’s comment on my previous entry prompts me to remember that I’m way behind in my book reviews. Last summer, among other things, I read all of The Nick Adams Stories, including “Big Two-Hearted River.” which was by far the best of the book.
The collection gathers up all of Hemmingway’s Nick Adams material, much of which was never published, so there are lots interesting snippets. Some of them go absolutely nowhere, and some are just crystalized Hemmingway, but they provide a disjointed, fascinating portrait of Adams, who most argue is really Hemmingway himself.
As I said, Big Two-Hearted is the best of the group, mostly because it’s straight fishing. Sure, I could scratch it and it would bleed post-WWI Adams PTSD self recovery trip, or possibly even more, but I don’t think Hemmingway really cared about that, nor did I.
What I cared about was how he gathered up the grasshoppers, how he heated his can of beans by setting it in the fire, or how he set up his tent by streatching a tarp over a rope tied between two trees.
Note: On a recent winter camping trip (see previous), Scott and I used two tarps, ski poles and a log to set up our tent, and Scott cooked our spaghetti by setting the can in the fire. I might even take to using my choppers as oven mits around the house.
I also cared about the fishing, and how when he loses the big one, it isn’t really a loss at all. It’s knowing you’re alive, and it’s alive, and the possibility of that connection through that innocent looking whisp of mono-filament line. It’s a great read. Thanks for the tip, David. When you get off the Big Island, let’s go.