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Michael's Book Babble

I'm an indie author and a scribbler of inane babble. I talk about books I've read/liked. Or at least, that's the plan.


Most of the reviews will be considered "mini-reviews." Usually, it's mostly my reaction to what I've been reading. There are people who are far better at doing full and helpful reviews. But I still have fun doing them, and hope you enjoy them!

Casualties of love and war

A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms is one of those novels I've been meaning to read for the longest time. I think I avoided it when I was younger because I thought it'd be a flowery, sappy love story. Obviously, this was before I started to read the short stories of Hemingway, because otherwise I would've known better. While I'm still a bigger fan of his short stories, this was an excellent book. I felt attached to almost every character that I ended up meeting during this journey of love and war.


There is a love story between an ambulance driver and a nurse during World War I. But mostly, there is war. A good majority of the book deals with the narrator dealing with combat, although I wouldn't go as far as to call it an action packed story. It isn't, but that doesn't make it any less tense. The two hope they can end up being together untouched by the war, but as they'll find out it's more than a difficult obstacle. And also, nobody leaves war untouched in some way. A price is always paid, one way or another.


Hemingway's prose is unique in the way that he can end up conveying so much to you with saying so very little. He doesn't write overly long sentences. Nor does he hit you with wall-to-wall descriptions. And you know what? I like that. That's the kind of writing I dig. Sometimes you can leave an even more powerful impact by not saying everything. If I have one complaint about his prose (and it's really a minor one), it's that he gets in the habit of repeating himself. I understand he was probably doing this for effect, but it really stood out to me at times. I also noticed that with The Old Man and the Sea. Again, this is minor--and I feel unworthy of even saying such a thing about a master of literature.


Mad Men's John Slattery gives a wonderful performance on the audiobook version. His tone is very subtle, which is perfect for the book and Hemingway's style. A loud and flashy reading would not have been the route to go. But even though Slattery is subtle, he still does voices so you know who's talking.


A Farewell to Arms is my first experience of a Hemingway novel (I don't count The Old Man and the Sea since that was more of a novella), and I couldn't be happier that I made this my first novel of his. I can see why this is a classic, and I'm only sad that I hadn't read it sooner.


4 and a half stars