Lit Tuesday: To Have and Have Not

For our honeymoon, my husband and I went to south Florida. He had a bucket list item to go to the Everglades and do an air boat tour and I had a item to drive the Keys. We combined both into one trip and had a pretty great time!

Since we were in Key West, naturally, I made him stop at the Hemingway House. It was one of the top five things we did that I really enjoyed. I’ve always enjoyed his short stories (other than “Hills like White Elephants”, but that’s more from overexposure and the whole “they’re talking about abortion” reading) and I’ve admired his stuff since I read it in college for a short stories class. Here’s a picture I took of his office.

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Needless to say, I purchased two books and this awesome print (which, actually, I still need to get framed and hang up somewhere) while we were there.

One of the books was To Have and Have Not. Even though I said earlier that I’ve admired him for a while, I haven’t actually read any of novels until now.

As part of my reading challenge for this year (remember I posted about that?), I decided to read To Have and Have Not.

I think one of the things I enjoy about him is that he was as much of an outdoorsman as he was a writer. He marries the two things that were most important to him (drinking aside) in several, if not all, of his works. To Have and Have Not is another such one.

While I won’t go too far into details, to me, this book wound up being all about people who have things (the rich, the pampered, the ones who have everything in the palm of their hands) and people who don’t have things (the poor, the homeless, the man trying to provide for his family) and their struggles.

The main character, Harry Morgan, was one someone who had good money, a great wife, and a steady life. However, he runs across some bad luck (as can happen to anyone) and has to start doing anything he can to make ends meet for his wife and three daughters–even if it means killing someone.

I admit, because slang was so different back in the early part of the 20th century, I struggled a little bit with understanding some of the phrases. It usually worked itself out though.

Two things I noticed that I especially appreciated: a character leaves his house after his wife declares she’s leaving him. As Hemingway writes the scene, the long sentences and the wall of text on the page really lends the reader to the frame of mind of the character. It’s excellent use of the page and pacing of the story.

The other thing that really got me was, towards the end, as a boat is towed into a yacht club by the Coast Guard and you don’t know what’s going on with the one character still left alive after a shootout on the boat, Hemingway completely stops the story and talks about the people and families on four yachts in the harbor. You find yourself getting sucked into their troubles and their plights and their lives and then he finishes the chapter with:

There were two other  yachts in the harbor, but every one was aslep on them, o, when the Coast Guard boat towed Freddy Wallace’s boat, the Queen Conch, into the dark yacht basin and tied up alongside the Coast Guard pier.

I had a moment of, “Wait, what? Oh, right, that’s stuff aside from the main story–but I want to know more about them!”

All in all, it was a great read. I’m looking forward to Islands in the Sun (the other book I purchased).

Book one of the 2017 reading challenge complete!

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