To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

(Finished November 25, 2011)

To Have and Have Not is officially the first Hemingway book I did not thoroughly enjoy reading. It is also his latest work I’ve read. It was almost too simple and too straightforward and too course to be my kind of thing. I know that describes all of Hemingway’s work; usually I find it charming. This time, for some reason, I could not get into it.

I think most of the reason was the subject matter and location: running people and alcohol between the Florida Keys and Cuba just isn’t really something I’m interesting in reading. I was hoping that because it was Hemingway, I’d get into it. But I think the opposite happened – had this novel been richer and less sparse, I think I could’ve enjoyed it. As it was, I was bored and a little appalled and pretty bored.

The story focuses on a man named Harry. To make money to take care of his family, he runs alcohol – and people – between Florida and Cuba. Inevitably, things take a turn for the worse when he accepts a shady, shady job offer.

Things that bothered me about this book: 1. There was no real resolution to the story. It really just ended. 2. There were lots of characters that really make no difference to the story. 3. So much of the dialogue adds nothing to the story. 4. Connection between the separate stories was completely absent.

I probably would have stopped reading this book had I had another book to start at the time. Now I’m nervous to give Hemingway another shot – but I’m sure I will. I’ll just stick to his early stuff.

To Have and Have Not (Scribner Classics)To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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