The 15-Minute Pulitzers
Imagine my delight a few days ago, when my copy of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize winner arrived and I discovered it to be only 127 pages long. I know that makes me sound a bit miserly, or even very miserly, but there are just so many hours in a day and I get tired around 7 at night. (I’m not 19 anymore.) Anyway, I cruised through Ernest Hemingway’s Pulitzer, The Old Man and the Sea (his last novel published during his lifetime and the one cited specifically in his Nobel win of 1954) in a weekend and still had time to go see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies for a second time. Nothing like pseudo-medieval mythology from before the Second World War to set off a spent (and nearly perfect) weekend’s Sunday night.
And the book, Hemingway’s book, by the way, was pretty great. Not only was it succinct, it was a page turner. I mean, imagine being dragged out to sea by a giant swordfish that you’d hooked through your considerable experience and skill, then facing the vastness of the ocean with only your wits and a much patched sail and sailboat. Imagine now that your story is told with such poetry and power that the hearers invest emotionally and begin to care deeply about the outcome, and imagine that near the end you are made to reconsider the meaning of achievement and pride and brotherhood. Perhaps I’ve just turned Hemingway’s literary nuance into sentimental cliche, but, oh well. For the real experience, and the ending (I believe I have yet to give away even one!), you’ll just have to read the book. If you feel differently than I’ve described (hmm) it could be that you are heartless and mistaken, but then, it’s probably more that I’ve always been kind of old at heart and have a weakness for stories about old men (and ancient dwarves) facing high odds. You tell me. It’s your weekend.