The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

“It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact.”

The old man, the aged form of a monster of a man who was once deadlocked in an arm wrestling contest for days and won, is poor and alone with a breaking down body and with the scant acquaintance of a small boy who occasionally provides company and speaks kindly to him. He has spent 84 consecutive days fishing without a catch. Everyone considers him bad luck and the boy’s parents do not want him spending any time with the man. But he is doggedly persistent, has an idea of where he wants to fish that day and sets out alone to cover a great distance and try again. Out of sight of anything other than water he encounters the mother of all fish and is locked into a monumental battle of wit, patience and determination as he fights nature and himself.

Hemingway’s immortal, Pulitzer Prize-winning work may not be what you’re expecting. Sometimes there’s a disconnect for the modern reader and older, classic works, like inertia needs to be overcome before the book disappears from the shelf and appears magically in your hand. If you hesitate with this book, it’s a mistake.

The Old Man and the Sea is a very short work and a lightning read. It’s as fraught with tension as any thriller and speaks to the best nature of mankind through the story with the simple effectiveness of a master. This was a hell of a fight and an outstanding piece of fiction.

“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

5 stars

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