Monday, August 3, 2015

Book 119: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Audiobook read by Donald Sutherland)

This summer, my goal was to read the works of Ernest Hemingway. Although I have admired his legacy for being the most flawed and brilliant American author, I haven't been able to read a single one of his books front cover to cover.So far, he has been the only author that I wish I could read, but couldn't bring myself to do it.

Turns out, The Old Man and the Sea, read by Donald Sutherland, was a good place to start.

The story is a simple one. A fisherman down on his luck heads has been been branded by the town as a lost cause. His fishing companion who he calls "the boy," has been instructed by his parents to stay away from the old man, should he become equally cursed. Alone on the 85th day, the old man heads out to sea, hooks an 18-foot marlin, and is dragged - skiff and all - out to the deep, dark sea. A seemingly endless battle between the old man and the marlin ensues, and the fish is finally subdued. The old man lashes the fish to his skiff, only to have it eaten away by sharks before he can get back to shore to show the rest of the town. After the old man collapses in exhaustion, the townspeople find the skeleton of the marlin, still lashed to the skiff, and cannot believe the size of it.

I put myself into the shoes of someone who had never heard of a marlin or harpoon or skiff, and all at once, I got it. The simplicity and beauty of this book lies in Hemingway's ability to observe a fisherman's tasks and write them in a way that they become meaningful to others.

This was an absolutely riveting book, filled with details that only a seasoned observer could relay. The details make this book.

P.S. Before I finished this book, I had a dream that I ran into Donald Sutherland at a restaurant and that I told him I was grateful that he had decided to record this audiobook, because I could actually ingest Hemingway because I love his voice.

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