Sunday, December 8, 2013

This week: Nature Wants to Kill You with Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, and Harry Turtledove


Craving manly tales of outdoor adventure, I checked out a handful of short-story collections by Ernest Hemingway and Jack London. I started with the titular story of Hemingway's The Snows of Kilamanjaro, having seen the movie earlier in the week. and was surprised when the main character died, instead of being rescued by plane as he was when portrayed by Gregory Peck -- surprised because in the story, he was rescued by plane -- but that was, alas, the dream of a dying man.  I switched to To Build a Fire (And Other Stories), only to be treated to the account of a man freezing to death in the Yukon wilderness, having cheerfully blundered into the snow despite even his dog knowing -50 degrees is too cold for country walks.  I decided to stop reading those and find something slightly happier, like The Men Who United the States.  At the library, though, I spied that we've recently acquired Things Fall Apart, the latest piece in Harry Turtledove's supervolcano-induced ice age death of civilization series.

Thus, death-by-nature seems to be a theme among the books I'm spending time with as we head into winter, but surely all of Hemingway and London's stories collected in the volumes I have can't end in death. I intend on reading the Snows of Kilamanjaro collection through, if only because the only Hemingway I've read is The Old Man and the Sea.  He feels like an author I should have read much more of.   So, this week I'll be finishing off Small is Beautiful, then entertaining myself with tales of the outdoors. Distracting me will be The Men who United the States and The Other Side of Western History,  the latter of which contains historical pieces on everything from shipping traffic during the classical era to the daily minutia of being a  Renaissance bishop -- war in the morning, graft in the afternoons. Work, work, work!




3 comments:

  1. Speaking of Turtledove..... I've just finished the batch of vampire related and, after the pause brought on by my recent illness (terrible when you're too ill even to read!) I'll be diving into my usual bunch of fairly random stuff which will take me into the early part of next year......

    After that, my next themed batch will be Alternate History so that inevitably means Turtledove. I'll use him as the themes bookends and then mix up the centre bit as much as possible - though a surprising amount of alt-history stuff seems to be based in WW2 for some reason...

    Oh, and after reading the piece on your other site I think you'll be interested in some of the politically left-wing stuff I have coming up next year too. Nothing too specific yet but it will be a largely European take on things which might make an interesting contrast to your reading of American authors on the subject.

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  2. Considering that lately Turtledove has been producing two books a year, I can't really reccommend any of his recent material.

    I am astonished at all of the alt-history on Amazon -- Robert Conroy has a series of different endings (many for WW2...), and I just heard of an interesting one which will only be released in 2014: V-S Day, in which the United States and Nazi Germany begin a space race...in the 1940s.

    I shall look forward to your reviews,a s always. :)

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  3. Yeah, I know what you mean - I really lost interest in Turtledove a while back and stopped buying his books. I've still got a few in the pile though, so thought I'd get rid of two in the next batch. I'm also thinking about an 'End of the World' theme later - but certainly won't be adding his latest series to that list! [rotflmao]

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