I'll continue the catch-up reviews for a while. A few months ago I finished a monumental journey through The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, some 650 pages.
It was a bittersweet experience. Hemingway's writing is both depressing and entrancing. It's like watching a car accident. You want to look away, but it's so powerful that you can't pull your eyes away. He writes so well that I continued reading even though the topics were continually disappointing.
After a while, I sometimes commented to Sarah, "Well, at least no one died in this story." Almost every story is fraught with death and angst. Someone is either dying or getting royally screwed over. The cumulative message of the stories seems to be: "Life generally sucks, so you might as well get some pleasure out of it if you can, but be prepared for that to turn out backfire as well."
Nonetheless, he is a great story teller, and I enjoyed the stories on that level. He is a master of irony and character building. I'll give it a good 3j's - lower on the enjoyment level, but higher on the appreciation level. jjj.