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To Have And Have Not

Author: Ernest Hemingway
Year: 1937
Pages: 262
Rating:86/100 -- fun and interesting
Amazon: To Have And Have Not

Borrowed heavily from Wikipedia entry... To Have and Have Not is a 1937 novel by Ernest Hemingway about Harry Morgan, a fishing boat captain who runs contraband between Cuba and Florida. The novel depicts Harry as an essentially good man who is forced into blackmarket activity by economic forces beyond his control. Initially, his fishing charter Johnson tricks Harry by not paying back the money he owes him, and then escapes the country by airplane before Harry can realize what is going on. Harry then takes a critical decision to attempt smuggling Chinese immigrants into Florida in order to feed his family. (He then finds himself forced to kill the person in charge of getting the immigrants to Florida, because the man "Obviously was far too easily persuaded to pay him more for the transport") The Great Depression features prominently in the novel, forcing depravity and starvation on the residents of Key West, referred to as "Conchs." The novel consists of two earlier short stories ("One Trip Across" and "The Tradesman's Return") that make up the opening chapters and a novella (that makes up two-thirds of the book) written later. The style is distinctly modernistic with the narrative being told from multiple viewpoints at different times by different characters. It begins in first person (Harry's viewpoint), moves to third person omniscient, then back to first person (Al's viewpoint), then back to first person (Harry's again), then back to third person omniscient where it stays for the rest of the novel. As a result, names of characters are frequently written under the chapter headings to indicate who is narrating that section of the novel.

Litty's Take
This is one of Hemingway's less popular books but it seemed interesting enough when I picked it up at the Penn Station book store. Overall, I liked it. Hemingway writes in a way that makese his story seem modern day even though he wrote it almost 75 years ago. Harry Morgan is a likeable character who has his faults. Hemingway is also way before his time by shifting scenes, narrators and character. I'm starting to think Hemingway is my favorite writer. I easily identify with his characters and I'm regularly in awe of the wisdom in his writing. I'm not sure if my next move should be to read more of his lesser known books or to reread For Whom The Bell Tolls, Old Man and the Sea, and The Sun Also Rises.

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