Friday, 11 March 2011
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
This short novel was written in 1937 while Hemingway was living in Key West and features another classic 'Code Hero' in Harry Morgan; A grizzled, no-nonsense charter fisherman turned smuggler. Morgan struggles throughout the book to make a living during the great depression running people and contraband from the Florida Keys to Cuba and vice versa.
Morgan is really an anti-hero; a hard drinking, dishonest and desperate man guilty of murder and not kind to his wife and children. He struggles to make ends meet in a dangerous job where he faces the constant risk of death or imprisonment. By the end of the book (which is very short) he's been involved in three separate gun fights.
The story is bleak, very bleak which I guess is appropriate due to the time in history these events are set in however it is also gripping, exciting and certainly action packed. There is dry humour too but not enough of this for my liking. Unfortunately because the book was published in the 1930s black characters are often referred to as 'niggers' which I found unpleasant but tried to ignore because of the time it was written.
All in all this is certainly not the best Hemingway has to offer but neither is it the worst. It is worth a read if you want something gritty and entertaining.
Final verdict 3/5