RE: RARA-AVIS: To Have and Have Not

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 15 Mar 2002

>quotes from a number of people:
>The movie just wasn't good, it was a classic. Even though it
>isn't as dark or hardboiled as the book, it has some of the best
>one-liners in the movies, and snappy dialog is a hall-mark of

it was a classic. i didn't like it, though. it seemed a weak attempt to twist a good book as much as possible in order to fit the casablanca plot and success. i thought the staging of the competition (wrong word?) between the two women was contrived and unbelievable. by the way, ray, ever get stung by a dead bee? ;-)

>The first half
>of the book is actually some of Papa's best writing. In the last half he
>seems to lose focus and meander a little, it is still good stuff

the book was written in three parts. the first two parts came out as stories in 1934 and 1936, one of which i believe was in the 1935 _men without women_ 14-story collection. hemingway's publisher pressured him into pulling it together as a novel, so he wrote the ending and it was published in 1937. its been said that harry morgan is father to both sam spade and philip marlowe.

and yes, the book is a combination of some good and some bad writing. he saved his worse for _across the river and into the trees_. i only made it about halfway thru that book. one critic thought he should have called it _across the street and into the bar_.

>This happens a lot in Hemmingway's novels, that is, the second
>half losing focus and wandering. For the record, my belief is
>that his best novel is "A Farewell to Arms." The worst offender
>is "Islands in the Stream," but that may be unfair because
>Hemmingway didn't get a chance to work with the editor before
>it was published. Hemmingway was a master of shorter fiction--
>the Nick Adams stories and "Old Man and the Sea" being prime

my favorite novels are _the sun also rises_(best novel i've read in my life), _to have and have not_, and _islands in the stream_.
_farewell to arms_ was a major success for hemingway (only one
"m", please ;-), but i didn't like it. i thought catherine's character weak and fawning, i got tired of them continuously repeating how wonderful they were to each other, and whatever conflict was there, was not enough to make the novel dynamic and interest me. _for whom the bell tolls_ was better (more action and the characters mixed it up a little more) but there was still the feeble relationship between robert jordan (never just "robert" or "jordan") and maria, his (i cringe) "rabbit".

bottom line is as ray says. his short stories were what he was really a master at. jim blue sort of said that... when i praised him, he mentioned three short stories as examples. and truman capote said that hemingway would be remembered for his short stories and not his novels. you know truman couldn't be wrong.


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