What is it about?
There are three main characters in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea – Santiago, an elderly fisherman; Mandolin, his young friend; and an eighteen-foot marlin fish. This short story starts on Santiago’s eighty-forth day without catching a fish, but he’s sure things will turn around for him on the 85th day because, so he says, 85 is a lucky number. So on the 85th day he sets out, going farther than he has before, and he gets a bite from a huge marlin fish; a fish that isn’t going to go down without a fight. For poor old Santiago catching this fish is only half of the battle, and the odds seem toweringly stacked against him. A relaxed narrative interspersed with philosophy, this book is a gentle read that will leave you thinking.
Is it any good?
This is a book with a reputation the proceeds it; a dangerous thing that often leads to disappointment. Whilst, perhaps, ‘disappointment’ is too strong of a word to use, this book isn’t exactly what I was expecting. Whilst it definitely made me think, it has by no means changed my life or my outlook on it. That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable read though – it definitely was! It is suspenseful and skilfully written. Hemingway manages to manufacture sympathy for both the old man and the fish, and the old man is a genuinely likeable character. The Old Man and the Sea is certainly worth a read.
How long did it take to read: four (horrifically busy) days – this book could probably be done in one sitting by those of us without university coursework to do
For fans of: Moby Dick, fables, fishing, realism
This book tastes like: raw fish sushi