BOOK CRITIC CRITIQUE:
Non-bookworms need not waste their energy on this post.
I finally finished reading A Farewell to Arms. It’s a great American classic written by the tortured soul, e.h. It was the first book to give him some notoriety as a writer and has been adapted for the stage and screen more than once. I wanted to like this book. In fact, I wanted to love this book. I purchased it last summer when my husband took me to tour e.h.’s former Key West home, so even the actual physical book and pages are sentimental to me.
Can I just say….
B E A T D O W N?!?!
It took me a year to read it. Yes, 1 year people! And not because I couldn’t comprehend e.h.’s short, choppy, staccato style sentences that so many literary critics have admired over the years. I just had to take it in small doses. But I was determined to finish it, because I didn’t want it to finish me. As a bibliophile, I have never had such a time with a book.
e.h’s experience in the war came through on the pages in a fascinating way….. But his writing style is like a drunk and angry man stabbing mashed potatoes with a butcher knife when a small spoon will do. And the entire story ended with great abruption. It was as if he woke up one morning raging from his own love-scorned past and decided to end it all. “No more for you. Take that!”
I both longed for and loathed this book every night that it mocked me from my nightstand. I wanted to read this book just so it would end. And when it finally ended, I turned the last pages back and forth staring at “THE END” in utter disbelief thinking, “He can’t do that!?! There has to be more!”
e.h. is recognized as one of the best American writers of all time. I really want to be in agreement with the masses and like this author, but every time I try to read e.h, I think, “This is angry, tortured, crap. But no one else thinks this is crap. What is wrong with me? Why do I think it’s crap? And why do I care that no one else thinks it’s crap? Is it really only me?”
If I know anything about e.h., he would probably say, “I don’t give a #%@ what you or anyone else thinks about my writing” and toss back another stiff drink. I think I will stick with admiring e.h. for his great marlin fishing expeditions. And my nightstand will finally be free of e.h. No more e.h. for me…… For now.