Not being generally a non-fiction reader, and having studied Hemingway at Uni (and not much liking him, the misogynistic git!) this came as a surprise to me. What struck me first was how evocative his descriptions of the African countryside were - luscious, green - and the attention to detail - clearly the thrill of the hunt was a big deal to him, and he clearly loved Africa and how it made him feel when he was there. The discussions about other writers, Henry James in particular, were interesting: Hemingway wanted to be part of the American canon of writing and his sometimes bitter responses to the reviews of his writing are bound up here. You can see as well where his inspiration for "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" started to come from in this book with its descriptions of his domineering wife. He also draws interesting parallels (analogies?) between the hunter's search for good land and the writer's search for good material. It's a book of its time though. Hemingway's attitude to women - always fairly wrong - are clear, shown through the maleness of its perspective; it's so testosterone fuelled. And as always, Hemingway's opinionated character shines through, shown in the relationships between him and the other hunters and guides. However, you've got to try and read it as though you were in its time, the 30s and not judge too much from the 21st Century. That said, his concern for the African environment and the encroaching of people on the landscape and traditional ways of life is light years ahead. It's beautifully written, but a little dry to start with; it needs perservering with to get to the truly personal experience in part 4. Thanks, Yolking for making me read something I wouldn't have ordinarily!
Hmm. I'm really glad I read this, I've always meant to get round to Hemingway and never have. But I have to say it isn't going to push me to read any more.
I struggled to get into it as I found it a bit like being on the outside of a group when everyone is talking in nicknames and abbreviations that you don't get - took me ages to understand the P.O.M thing. If he didn't have the reputation he did, I'd almost think it was a struggling writer who had been trying to think of a first plot and ended up writing "what I did on holiday".
But in fairness the main reason I disliked it is because of the subject matter. Having spent some time in Africa and on safari, including with hunters, I have fairly strong and decided opinions on it and his descriptions highlighted almost all the worst facets of game hunting in my opinion, regardless of era. Aside from the need for meat, and some recognition of looking for animals that were better meat providers on occasion, I found much of it repugnant. And although he tried to describe a passion for Africa, I actually found it just didn't connect with my deepest feelings about the wild continent so even that just didn't do it.
But it's crossed off one thing on my list of lifetime tasks in short order and that's good! Sorry Yolking, that is a bit of a downer on the book, I really do mean it that I'm glad I read it.
I am sorry but I did not get very far with this. I've made a habit of not reading the online comments before reading the book, whereas this is one example where if I had, I might have persevered. I have no connection with, or particular interest in Africa and I found that as I was not drawn in during the first couple of chapters, it would only have been a sense of obligation that would have kept me going!
I'm with Tigger on this one - I hated, hated, hated all the hunting. I found it sickening. But then I'm not a massive fan of Hemingway anyway; I have enjoyed some of his fiction but I wouldn't rush to read him again. I've enjoyed other writers on Africa more (Thesiger, Murphy etc).
The only part I did like was the conversations and banter between the main characters; I enjoyed the way they took the piss out of each other.
I also didn't get very far with this, a shame as we have a lot of connections with Africa as a family but it seemed really hard work and I just couldn't get into it - also the print is very small and that was hard work . I am sure I have read more of EH years ago and enjoyed it.
I'm really sorry, but even after reading the comments that all seem to be saying it is worth persevering with this book, I just couldn't read it. I've tried a few times over the month and there is nothing about it that I can connect with.