Every once in a while, I need a classic. And I need sentences don’t call attention to themselves.

It has taken me a long time to warm to Hemingway. The stories (not the Nick Adams ones) were first. I really like A Farewell to Arms. This posthumous novel gave me the prose I wanted, but the story was hardly captivating. It’s episodic and probably somewhat autobiographical (but I care little about such things). I’d forgotten Hemingway’s habit of leaving things unsaid, and he uses that technique powerfully here.

There’s a loyalty to art here. And men. And drinking. Everyone seems to like Thomas Hudson, and he manages to persevere despite some serious losses. The ending is sad and inevitable and true.

Though I know little of life on the water or life, for example, in Cuba, I found the story evocative. Hemingway and Hudson paint well with deceptively simple strokes.

What’s your favorite Hemingway?

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