Sunday, January 14, 2018

"The Torrents of Spring" by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway doesn't often make me laugh.  Not with his fiction, anyway.  Once in a while, he makes me cry.  But man alive, did I laugh over this little book!

On a whole, The Torrents of Spring reads like an inside joke.  Hemingway is poking fun at stuffy, pretentious writing, particularly that of his erstwhile friend Sherwood Anderson (so I've learned -- I wouldn't have gotten the Anderson connection without looking this book up online after I finished it).  It's elaborately structured, with four different parts each begun with these long quotations from Henry Fielding that are increasingly unrelated from the story itself.

The story talks about two men who work for a pump factory in Petoskey, Michigan.  The first man, Scripps O'Neill, falls in insta-love with the waitress at a "beanery," a short-order restaurant.  They announce that they're married, and the waitress spends the rest of the book worrying that she'll lose him to this other waitress.  She tries to hold onto him by subscribing to high-toned literary magazines and talking a lot about her childhood in England.

The other man, Yogi Johnson, is trying to find a woman that will interest him.  He used to be interested in women, but during the war, he was betrayed by a Parisian girl and can't seem to care about women anymore.  Until he meets a naked Indian Squaw, that is -- then he's interested, all right, and walks off into the spring night with her and her baby.

If all that doesn't sound like it makes a whole lot of sense, well, like I said, the whole book feels like an inside joke.  I laughed a lot over it because it was absurd, and also because Hemingway stuck all these little notes to the reader in it here and there.  Those were far and away my favorite part, and I'll re-read this one day just for them.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for some bad language and hinted-at adult situations.

This is my 13th book read and reviewed for my second go-round with The Classics Club, as well as my first for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018.

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