Friday, June 3, 2016

Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway | A Book Review

I bought this book way back in 2011 and it was just recently that I read the book. I have not read any of Hemingway's works before and I was so excited when I saw this in a second-hand bookstore.

As everyone knows, Ernest Hemingway is a like a household name. His books are mostly studied in schools. Unfortunately, not in the public schools here in the Philippines. Everyone would most likely quote him. If you have read Hemingway, that amounts to being smart. His works have become classics.

Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway Book Review
So, with all these buzz about Hemingway, I was so giddy to eye the book on our bookshelf and decided it's time I am introduced to this famed author.

Islands in the Stream is a story about a man, Thomas Hudson, a gifted painter, who has exiled himself in Bimini (a Caribbean island). He lost his three sons. His two younger sons, David and Andrew, died in a car accident in Paris with their mother. His eldest son, young Tom, was killed in the war. He was then called to duty in Cuba to captain an improvised Q-boat chasing after the German survivors of a submarine. While in Cuba, Thomas Hudson focused his attention on trying not to remember the deaths of his two sons. He tried to drown out his sorrows in alcohol and work. He refuse to talk about what happened. The last part of the book is the account of Hudson's hunt for the Germans across the cayos (keys, small island or ledge of rock in the water) and coves. Hudson was heavily wounded. The ending was unclear as to what happened after that, except that Hudson has come to terms with the deaths of his children. It leaves the reader his own interpretation of what the appropriate ending would be.

Honestly, I was not impressed and not happy with this book. My expectations were too high and I was let down. The first parts seem boring and I just continued reading in the hope that the later parts would have the good stuff. But I was still dissatisfied. Maybe, his other books will make me a believer, but this book does not make me one. Fear not Hemingway fans and scholars, I am not giving up on Hemingway. In fact, it made me more curious to read his other works. One book does not ruin him for me. His popularity alone makes me want to know if the author is really what he is known to be. After all, he is a bestselling author, right? This is like a first date where the guy was talking a lot about himself but did not make a lot of sense. He monopolizes the conversation but he has shown little bits of his personality that makes me want to give him a chance on a second date. So, onward to learning more of Hemingway.

Islands in the stream (according to Wikipedia) is a posthumous work. It was published and was originally intended to revive his reputation after the negative reviews of Across the River and Into the Trees. This work was found by his wife Mary, rough but appeared finished. Islands in the Stream is supposed to be a three part book chronicling the three stages of Thomas Hudson's life--The Sea When Young, The Sea When Absent and The Sea When Being, which were later changed to Bimini, Cuba and At Sea