Coming off of Dodie Smith's "I Capture the Castle," I decided that I needed a real manly book. So of course, I turned to Hemingway! I had come across one of those ridiculous listicles that proclaimed to have identified the most famous book that takes place in each state. Hemingway's "To Have and Have Not" was the selection for Florida. Checked out the description of the book - boats, Cuban rebels, smuggling off the Florida Keys, I'm in! A nice complement for my 2018 theme of "Crime and Punishment".
I didn't realize what I was getting in to. Hemingway bounces wildly between a bunch of different perspectives and somehow covers an enormous number of ideas in just 180 pages. Race relations, socialism, rebellion, crime, sex, greed, wealth, laziness, family life, gender roles, violence, nature, work, power, etc. The dialogue is spartan but startlingly evocative - there are even a few bitter laughs in here. Hemingway is a master, but I didn't enjoy this book. His view of life is too gritty, too cynical, and too bleak (I was even reminded of Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle"). "To Have and Have Not" punched me in the stomach and left me empty and sad.