Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book Report: A Farewell To Arms


"In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains."


And, so begins one of the best books I've ever read. Hopefully, you won't wait until you're as old as me to delve into Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms.

Written in Hemingway's unique, succinct style, A Farewell To Arms is one of those books that gets under your skin and stays with you for days after you've read the final line. If you're looking for a feel good, happy tale--skip this one. In fact, better skip Papa Hemingway altogether. But, if you're looking for an unvarnished, raw story as complicated as life itself...something to enlighten, inform, and challenge your assumptions...jump in feet first.

At its heart, A Farewell To Arms is a love story. But, it's also a tome on war--the price, the caualties, the comradery, the chaos, and the mundane meaningless of the day-to-day grind. Interestingly, it's also semi-autobiographical. Hemingway drove ambulances for the Red Cross on the Italian front during WWI. Just like the protagonist, Ernest was injured in battle {when he was barely 20-years-old} and fell in love with his nurse while recuperating.

Hemingway's style was a huge departure from the Victorian novelists who were popular when he first began his career. He's considered one of the first `modernists', departing from flowery, overly descriptive style to one that's more skeletal.

Here's a suggestion. If you read a lot of bestsellers or modern day fiction, return every now and then to a classic. I promise you'll appreciate great writing when you run across it.

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