Monday, October 3, 2011

On little cat feet

Current book: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Pages read: 10 - 98

So, I finally got the book - the library was totally holding out on me, and clearly had another copy. I went to get some other books on Saturday and just strolled by the shelf to check, and there it was, quietly Hemingwaying with the other Hemingways. Come on, library. You're supposed to want people to read books.

Our hero's name is Robert Jordan, which is amusing if you're familiar with modern fantasy novels (and one wonders if Robert Jordan chose his nom de plume because of this novel), and he seems to be American, although it's not entirely clear. Anyway, he's a demolitionist working for the allied forces waging guerrilla warfare in Spain during World War II. So far, he's arrived at the rebel camp and met some people, amongst them Pablo, the de facto commander, who's a drunk and seems to be close to turning traitor; Anselmo, an older, wise man who's fought before; and Maria, a girl rescued from prison. Pablo seems like he's eventually going to be a problem, but hasn't done anything yet. Pilar, Pablo's wife, is really in charge of the guerrilla camp, and is keeping everything in order and Pablo in check. Honestly, they just seem to hang out, eat, and drink wine. Robert cases the strategic bridge that he's been sent to this particular area to blow up and decides it will be quite easy to set and detonate the explosives. (We're also informed through flashbacks that he has to wait for an army-initiated attack to start before he actually destroys it.) In addition, he finds himself very attracted to Maria, and they eventually sleep together. She's the initiator of the tryst, which is good, since it seems like she was raped in prison, and we'd hate for Robert to take advantage of her.

It's pretty much really boring. I wish I could say that it was somehow changing my mind about Hemingway, but it's definitely not so far. His dialogue is bizarre and stilted, too, which the appreciators of his style will, I'm sure, put down to the fact that it's spare and unique, but makes it sound sort of like everyone's a robot. Also, watching guerrillas bicker in a cave is not my idea of a good time. I'm sure there's an important lesson about the monotony of war and the futility of plans in a time of conflict, but I am not looking forward to spending the next 600 pages learning it.

How come there are never any six-toed cats in Hemingway's books? You'd think they might have sneaked in. I assume they're good at sneaking. What with the six toes.

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