Thursday, January 20, 2011

What a Stinker

Literary Blog HopOh yes, enough of those literary books that we love, what about those that we've hated? The Blue Bookcase asks, for this installment of the Literary Blog Hop, for us to Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?


I really only have one answer for the this: The Old Man and the Sea.  ((shudder))
Granted, I hated my teacher, and was determined to hate the book.  But I thought I'd hate it in a "stupid assignment, this is so annoying" way, not a "toothpicks under my fingernails would feel better than this" way.

It's a mere 120-something pages.  I'd read Anna Karenina, this should have been cake.  But my fear & loathing of the sea teamed up with my irritation & disdain for my teacher and this little renowned book kicked my butt.  After the first page or two, I could have sworn that I was reading the same three pages over and over (and over and over) again.  Old man is on the sea in small boat.  Old man catches fish.  Fish is big and strong.  Man will not let go.  Fish will not give up.  Repeat.

I realize I'm going to have to give this another shot at some point.  I realize that I will likely think differently of it now than I did then.  I realize that it is utterly ridiculous that I've used this little book as an excuse to hate all books about the sea (especially considering I've read two 5-star books in the last 6 months that have "Sea" in the title and partially take place on boats).  I realize I need to get over it already.

But complaining about it so much more fun. :)

25 comments:

  1. I didn't read this book until I was 40 and I really liked it. But I can see how I would have hated it in high school.

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  2. LOL! I didn't like it much in high school either, but it's short so I'll probably try it again one of these days... not in a huge hurry though ;-)

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  3. I have a few from middle school English that I didn't care for. But I think that's ok... even if they are classics. Because I think about some of the books I LOVED, and wonder if I would love them so much if I read them again today (or for the first time today). I think part of the great thing about literature is it's also a memory walk -- what you liked when you were who you were when you read them. Oh gosh, does that make sense? I can't imagine many teenage girls loving a book about an old man fishing. I'm just sayin'. :)

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  4. Thomas, I keep hearing of people that really like it, which makes me think that I really do need to reread it.There are some books that teens just aren't equipped to appreciate.

    JoAnn, is it bad that it makes me happy to find someone sharing my misery? :) I feel the same way, I'll probably try it again...someday. :)

    Wallace, you are so right! I've had such a journey in my book tastes, but each episode really represents who I was (and where I was) at that point in my life. And oh...I still don't know if I'm up for a book about an old man fishing...not when you put it like that!

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  5. Teachers make such a huge difference in our perceptions of books. I haven't read this one either, but I think if I had someone who could help me understand how this book might be about more than just and old guy fishing, I might do a little better with it...

    I see that the Secret Life of Emily Dickinson is on your soon-to-be-read sidebar thing from LT. I'm looking forward to reading it, too!

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  6. I've always avoided this book, partially because I also have a "fear & loathing" of the sea and boats. I'm glad I'm not the only one! I know it's short and I've heard good things about it but I've always stayed away.

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  7. I loved reading this post and for this non-literary reason - I am so glad there is someone else out there with a fear and loathing of the sea! It is a scary place and I try to avoid going ni it as often as i can :-)

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  8. Boy do I feel for you! I had a similar experience which I wrote of in my Literary Hop post. As a teacher, I am much more aware of making reading a positive experience for my students & getting them interested in a variety of materials.

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  9. I'm actually right there with you. I read this one in 9th grade, and while Great Expectations (which I also read at that age) impacted my life positively for a very long time, The Old Man and the Sea made me a Hemingway hater until my early 20s. I have yet to revisit Old Man, and I'm not sure I ever will!

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  10. This is one of those books I've always meant to read, but maybe I'll put it off a bit longer!

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  11. Funny, this is the only Hemingway book I can stand, maybe because his super-machismo is more muted in this short novel. Otherwise I find his books a little too long on testosterone and sexism.

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  12. I haven't read anything by Hemingway, but we're going to study The Old Man and the Sea in my Fiction class next month. I don't really know what to think about it. Some bloggers hate it, while others highly recommend it. It sounds boring to me, though.

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  13. Lifetime Reader, it would help to read it along with someone else who liked it...although I can't say I'd be looking too hard for such an opportunity, I'm not quite there yet! (I'm hoping to get to The Secret Life of Emily Dickenson by the end of the month)

    Red, I always try to avoid "Sea" books solely because I think the ocean is creepy. Sounds logical, right?

    Becky, in 5th grade I was assigned to write a paper on Why I Would Like to Be an Oceanographer...I couldn't think of a single thing and ended up writing a paper on why I Wouldn't instead. It was a passionate paper. :)

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  14. Teacher/Learner, I feel for all you teachers! What an awesome responsibility, especially considering that people naturally have different likes/dislikes!

    Andi, what Hemingway book pulled you out of the hater club? Maybe that's a better first step for me! If I just reread Old Man right now, I feel like I'd still hate it.

    Susan, on one hand it is short compared to some of the other books out there. On the other hand, it was rather like reading the instructions on a shampoo bottle for 100+ pages. :)

    Heather, that's interesting! I haven't read much Hemingway in general due to this one experience. So maybe it really just depends on where you are coming from. I really should give the guy another shot.

    Darlyn, I look forward to seeing what you think. Hopefully you have a great teacher that will make it enjoyable!

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  15. My first attempt with this one was not fun.. I was completely baffled by the fan-fair swirling around this book (and its author, since this was my first experience with Hemingway). But, over the years, I read a bit more Hemingway and began to understand, so I went back to OM&TS and my opinion changed drastically. I think that happens a lot.. it's sad when a first experience is a bad one, though - it could have put me off completely from Hemingway (although I could say that about The Sun Also Rises, too, which I loathed).

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  16. I don't remember, who it was, but someone else on this site posted the same book. There are a lot of people who hate Hemingway!

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  17. having a teacher, you have no respect for would place you in an antagonistic attitude even before you started, as my EngLIt teacher I didn't really loathe, that would have been crediting them some passion.

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  18. I hear you! I read it in French and not for school, but these were my exact feelings. It was a struggle!

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  19. Thanks for hopping by, Melody, and lovely blog. I'm a new follower. I've managed to avoid The Old Man and the Sea and will continue to do so. Hope you have a nice book club discussion of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. I loved and just reviewed it on my blog.

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  20. So Adam, what would recommend as the best way to begin an appreciation for Hemingway? I want to optimize my chances of making a reread worth it! Was there a particular book of his that made you more sympathetic?

    Jenny, it's been so long since I've read him that I honestly don't remember any about it apart from the wash-rinse-repeat cycle. I should probably read more Hemingway, if only to solidify my opinion!

    Parrish, I'm sure that my feelings for the teacher were directly transferred to the book. Maybe a reread would bring back some of those great memories. :)

    Em, in French? (impressed!) Amazing how such a short book can be such a pain to read, right?

    Robyn, thanks for returning the visit--I went and read your review of Major Pettigrew, thanks for telling me about it!

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  21. I can't stand Hemingway!

    Some books are so difficult to get into. And those put us off that author too, for always.

    And my teacher spoiled A Passage to India for me. But I did go back and loved it!

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop: Disliked Book post!

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  22. I've always been hesitant to pick this title up ... something about the whole thing seems to make me nervous. High school required readings seem to be the hardest to sometimes appreciate.

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  23. Love your blog title and design.

    My read was STONEHENGE DECODED...uggh. Did anyone else have to suffer through it?

    Stop by my blog if you like to see my full answer...I also have a giveaway that isn't very literary, but check it out.

    http://silversolara.blogspot.com

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  24. Now that you know I'm from Brittany, you're probably less impressed ;)

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  25. Well, not so impressed that I had no idea what I was talking about maybe. ;) I'm always impressed with people who know multiple languages fluently!

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