So I finished For Whom The Bell Tolls last night and all* I can say is WOW. Absolutely fantastic - it took my breath away. Everyone goes on about Hemingway's 'deceptively simple' prose but it's true - the writing is very plain yet beautiful, and somehow or other you are just pulled into the head of the main character and really feel as if you're there, in a pine forest during the Spanish Civil War, hearing gunfire and horses screaming as you wait for the fascists to attack. Who can you trust? Who is going to betray you? Who is going to survive? And all the while the tension is just building building building towards the finale - will the guerillas blow up the bridge? Can they escape? Surely there can't be a happy ending? Honestly, during the last 40 or so pages I was unable to speak, answer the phone, do anything except sit tensely reading, practically holding my breath as I made it to the end. I don't want to sound pompous but... it's a masterpiece. (My only quibble is that the edition I read (Arrow) is absolutely full of typos - on almost every page there's a missed word, or a misspelling or a comma instead of a full stop... really bloody annoying!)
Still, that aside, the book is probably the perfect pre-read to Guernica which is next on my list. That was neatly done, hey? (I'd love to pretend it was because I 'theme' my reading but in reality it was pure coincidence.)
Better start doing some work now. Inspired by Hemingway, I'm going to write some raw, honest, 'deceptively simple' prose of my own now... about mermaids. Hmmmm - this should be interesting...
* Not strictly true, as it turns out.
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