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Pennwoman  (Level: 152.3 - Posts: 2478)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 8:50 AM


Ok, I read. I read almost everything. I just read The Old Man and the Sea. I am baffled, what is all the fuss about! I was BORED with it, I more scanned it than read it, it's appeal is completely eluding me.
I also just read To Kill a Mockingbird, it was AMAZING, I have found myself going back to reread passages and have been walking around thinking about it.
Someone explain to me what I am missing on the first book!

Foogs  (Level: 264.1 - Posts: 848)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 9:23 AM

That's a toughie, Martina. What possessed you to read

I think to appreciate Hemingway you have to immerse
yourself. Just reading one book doesn't give you much
sense of his common themes.

It's been a LONG time since I read OMaTS, I can't even
remember how it ends, but it does reflect a lot of H's
common themes of nature and masculinity, especially
the idea that man (and I mean man) is never more alive
than when he's facing death. Santiago is a heroic
(transcendant?) figure because he overcomes nature and
reaffirms his masculinity against tremendous odds.

A H. short story that provides similar themes is The
Short Happy Life of Francis Maccomber that is in just
about every high school and freshman literary text.
My students always seemed to like it because of the
sort of twist ending.

Madamec8  (Level: 79.5 - Posts: 890)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 9:38 AM

To enjoy this book, you have to immerse yourself in it -- it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, washed up, who tries to land a marlin against all odds, and he never gives up. It is one of Hemingway's finest works, I'll never forget it. (It was made into a movie starring Spencer Tracy, but I think it's best to read the book first.)

A brief recap from Amazon:
The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss.

An excerpt: (you can read more of it on Amazon)

"He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy's parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert."

Jank0614  (Level: 67.1 - Posts: 4597)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 10:14 AM

I think if you go ahead and watch the movie, you'll like the book better.

(I seem to always like whichever I see/read first).

Donden  (Level: 112.5 - Posts: 2127)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 10:19 AM

Never read "Old Man" but "To Kill a Mockingbird" was a real snoozer as far as I'm concerned.

Pennwoman  (Level: 152.3 - Posts: 2478)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 11:15 AM

I was going through stacks of books, I had a stack of 'classics" that I had not read or had forgotten reading.
I read Old Man and the Sea because I hadn't yet. I am completely unmoved to read anymore of Hemingway.
I also read recently "Cry, the Beloved Country" which I also found very, very good.
I am not one that really enjoys seeing the movie of the book, it so rarely follows the book and I am disappointed with the movie then. The exception being the miniseries of the Stand and Lonesome Dove, both of which I found to be done very well and true to the books.
I read the book, The English Patient, which I did not like, at all, and it baffles me how it could be made into a movie.... but not enough to actually watch the movie.
Next I am going to read Arthur Conan Doyle stories.

Leaston  (Level: 42.6 - Posts: 839)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 11:22 AM

It has been years since I read the book,The old man and the sea, the movie was good! But I loved the book To kill a mockingbird and the movie is one of my favorites.

M48ortal  (Level: 248.2 - Posts: 3734)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 11:28 AM

Senior year in high school, I got my highest grade on a book report on The Old Man... I recall comparing Santiago to the common man, the marlin to a religious savior, and the sharks to the masses that try to drag the common man down. The teacher gushed about my insights and deep interpretation. I'm guessing she didn't read Mad Magazine.

I always got lost in the Russian classics. Couldn't keep up with all the different names. And Saul Bellow's The Rain King left me depressed for weeks.

Donden  (Level: 112.5 - Posts: 2127)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 1:40 PM

"Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger and "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair are the only two classics that I actually enjoyed reading. My high school days in Lit class were spent staring out the window or trying to put the hit on Phyllis Fox. My teacher once let me read any book I wanted and make a book report. I chose "Knock on any Door" by W. Motley which was later made into a movie with Bogart. I loved the book and got a high grade on the report but I don't know if it is considered a classic. I re-read the book about three years ago and liked it just as much the second time. I prefer historical fiction or high-tech thrillers now, but I gave up on Tom Clancy when he decided to let a bunch of second rate authors do his writing for him. He's also a real goof-ball in TV interviews.

Bbear  (Level: 159.3 - Posts: 2301)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 6:28 PM

Halibut you perch somewhere and fish around until you find a catchy reason to get hooked on that book.

(may Spenser Tracy with a rugged beard was reason enough?)

Bobolicios  (Level: 116.8 - Posts: 1745)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 7:49 PM

Martina thie book has a lot of symbolism in it which is something maybe Donden didn't catch. My favorite is Catcher in the Rye. I also loved all the Kurt Vonnegut books, Sirens of Titan, Breakfast of Champions, and my favorite Slaughterhouse Five. The made it into a movie and the book was much better. The books are always better, I just had House of Mirth by Edith Wharton put on reserve. I have been reading too much light fiction lately and felt I needed something deeper. I am currently readiing a non-fiction book by a survivor of the holocoust.

Fudypatootie  (Level: 194.4 - Posts: 1302)
Mon, 7th Sep '09 11:27 PM

I'm with you, Penn, I didn't like Old Man, either. I also didn't like Catcher in the Rye, or anything by Vonnegut, and I know I should but just can't seem to get through Ayn Rand, either. But I do like a lot of classics. I love To Kill a Mockingbird. I re-read it every year. Love the movie, too. 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Silas Marner, The Jungle, the list goes on.

Redwingchick  (Level: 91.1 - Posts: 420)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 12:32 AM

A guy, a boat, a fish and 127 pages. What's not to like?

Rowlanda  (Level: 70.0 - Posts: 2856)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 2:22 AM

I'm with you Fudy....

Can't see why Catcher in the Rye has any merit - apart from it's cynicism.
And found it sad that it was required reading for impressionable teenagers

The only book I liked by Ayn Rand was The Fountainhead, because her ideas
were very novel to me. By the time I got through Atlas Shrugged, I wonderd
if Ms Rand was married....and if so I felt sorry for her husband. She belabours
her points - like a persistent fly buzzing around my head.

Tried to read War and Peace and Dr.Zhivago but the triple names defeated me too.
Even tried at one point to make notes of the names by which the characters were
known....but found the stories themselves were not worth the effort. However, I did
enjoy the movies, found them to be much more palatable and appealing to my senses.

Madamec8  (Level: 79.5 - Posts: 890)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 5:51 AM

I didn't care for Fountainhead -- I had read Atlas Shrugged and I couldn't put it down ... I was mesmerized ... though at the end it got to be a little too much. I loved Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon. Today's paperback is in teensy print, I think it would be off-putting.

Redwingchick  (Level: 91.1 - Posts: 420)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 4:56 PM

I read Catcher in the Rye in high school and thought it sucked. Tried reading it again a few years ago thinking maybe I just needed to grow up to like it. Nope. Still sucked. I do not get the thrill of that book at all. On the other hand, I have read To Kill a Mockingbird 3 times and loved it. Gone With the Wind 4 favorite.

Pennwoman  (Level: 152.3 - Posts: 2478)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 7:02 PM

Oh Gone With the Wind was SO much better than the movie and I liked the movie!

I also just read several Dean Koontz books which I really enjoyed..... one writer that I find way over rated -- and the movies FAR better than the books.... is James Patterson.... I tried to like him, I really did but found the several books I read of his to be fluff... which is strange in murder mysteries...

I don't know if anyone has read any Dick Francis.... he writes books with horse racing in them.... I have nearly all his books, such a lovely story teller.

The only book I have ever thrown away was Anne Rice. I found her very, very disturbing and refused to read anything more of hers..... and I have nearly ALL Stephen Kings books.

Sandracam  (Level: 149.3 - Posts: 4190)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 7:14 PM

I've read several Koontz books. Can't remember one from another. Never again. To each their own though

Bobolicios  (Level: 116.8 - Posts: 1745)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 7:50 PM

I think I have read all of Kings books including Ghost Story under Bachman. I actually read the Stand a couple of times. I loved Catcher in the Rye. I got the mixed up confusion and irony of the character, it was sad, but sometimes so is being a teenager. I also loved Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Little Women. I know it is cliche but I really got into them. Nicholas Sparks is a good writer, a little light but enjoyable and easy. I loved Cold Mountain, I read it before I saw the movie it was great. In college I loved The Stranger by Albert Camus famous existentialist. I also loved John Steinbeck books, Tennessee Williams, and Fitzgerald. I think To Kill a Mockingbird is great I watch the movie too, whenever it is on I love Gregory Pecks Atticus.

Fudypatootie  (Level: 194.4 - Posts: 1302)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 9:36 PM

"one writer that I find way over rated -- and the movies FAR better than the books.... is James Patterson."

What's worse is that he uses ghost writers for everything. I really think he jots down an idea on a post-it and the ghost writer does all the work, with James peering over his shoulder every now and then and saying, "That's too deep. Mystery fans don't want deep. Instead, have that guy shoot that guy and have sex with that girl." Okay, maybe not that bad. I do actually read quite a few of his, but only when I want to zip through a "fluffy" mystery (you got that one right, too.)

The interesting thing about Koontz is that even though he writes some weird stuff that people who don't like horror would not like, he also writes other types of stories. For the horror-averse, the Odd Thomas books are a nice series. They're my fave of his books.

Sandracam  (Level: 149.3 - Posts: 4190)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 9:53 PM

Yeah, Odd Thomas, not too bad!

M48ortal  (Level: 248.2 - Posts: 3734)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 10:01 PM

Redwingchick said "A guy, a boat, a fish and 127 pages. What's not to like?"

No cooler.

Fainodraino  (Level: 111.8 - Posts: 240)
Tue, 8th Sep '09 10:28 PM

first of all, "no cooler"...hilarious.

On recommendation from my sister, fudypatootie, I read Old Man. I still have not forgiven her...j/k

Horrible book. I don't care how "into" it you get. It's still a stupid story.

Very few "classics" I liked, but I wish I had read more or had different english teachers in school.

Loved Great Expectations. Hated West Side Story at the time, but love it now. (is that a classic?)

One of my english teachers was a HUGE Mark Twain fan, so we were forced to read a bunch of his stuff. Just to show you how much I hated his stuff, I actually had my sister read the end and tell me what happened.

So she made up for making me read Old Man.

So I still love her...

Fudypatootie  (Level: 194.4 - Posts: 1302)
Wed, 9th Sep '09 1:19 AM

I don't remember asking you to read Old Man. Maybe that was one of those big-sister-methods-of-torture? I do remember finishing Tom Sawyer for you! You still owe me for that, you turd! And David woke me up before school one day and made me tell him how To Kill a Mockingbird ended so he could fake he'd read that. You brothers!!!

Fudypatootie  (Level: 194.4 - Posts: 1302)
Wed, 9th Sep '09 1:21 AM

And you recommended Great Expectations, but I couldn't get through it once it got to Miss Havisham. (Is that the right name?) I did watch the movie and liked it, though.

Pennwoman  (Level: 152.3 - Posts: 2478)
Wed, 9th Sep '09 10:00 AM

LOL, y'all are a hoot!
Faindraino -- I KNOW, all I could think of when I was reading Old Man, was the line from Seinfeld "yadda, yadda, yadda"

I read "The Mirror Crack'd" by Agatha Christie --- again recently, now she can write a murder mystery!

M48ortal  (Level: 248.2 - Posts: 3734)
Wed, 9th Sep '09 10:18 AM

I saw the musical "Wicked" and it inspired me to go back and re-read the whole "Oz" series, but I got bogged down after about the third book. So I figured if Wicked was so good, I should read the book by Gregory Maguire that inspired it. I started with "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" which was pretty good and gave new insights into the Cinderella story. Then I started "Wicked" the book, and it is taking forever to get through it. Definitely not one you can't put down. If I don't finish it soon, it goes in my stack of books to read during my next snowed-in time. Definitely a case where the stage production is better.

My tastes really run into anthologies. Books of folktales, short stories, and summaries. I got most of my knowledge of classics from Readers Digest condensed books and "Uncle John's Bathroom Readers" and the three-part (so far) "Great American Bathroom Books" series. If I like the condensation, I read the original. Life is too short to read all the classics in full, and still have time for any 'pleasure reading.

What modern author(s) do you feel will be considered a must-read for children of fifty years from now?

Fudypatootie  (Level: 194.4 - Posts: 1302)
Wed, 9th Sep '09 7:19 PM

Life is too short for bad literature. I heard about and use this rule for books: If you are under age 50, give a book 50 pages to catch your interest. If it hasn't, forget it. If you are over 50, subtract your age from 100 and give the book that many pages.

Headylamar  (Level: 149.5 - Posts: 740)
Wed, 9th Sep '09 7:36 PM

Love your book advice Fudy. Finally, I can stop force reading! Once in a while, I think I MUST read the dang thing just because I brought it home from the library or, worse yet paid cash for it. No more guilt!! This is gonna change my life. Thanks!!!

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