Sunday, February 8, 2009


Last night marked another wonderful graveyard shift at the nursing home. For the last few weeks they've been putting me at the west nurse's station, which is the rehabilitation unit. Most of the residents there have acute issues and are usually recovering from surgeries or respiratory illnesses. This makes for a much more alert and coherent crowd, and that keeps the call lights ringing all night.

I've been trying to finish up A Farewell to Arms, but over the last month or so I've been averaging about ten pages a shift because the residents keep me busy. For whatever reason, I wasn't super swamped last night, and I found time to finish the second half of the book.

When my charge nurse saw me reading A Farewell to Arms, he started to harass me. "Please tell me you're reading that for a class! Why would you ever read Hemingway?! I can judge so much about your character just by the fact you're reading Hemingway." This from the guy who listens to School House Rock and Bloodhound Gang on his i-Pod.

"Why don't you like Hemingway?"
"He's sooo depressing! Think of the most miserable unhappy ending to any plot, and you've got a Hemingway story."

True, most of Hemingway's stories are filled only with drinking, smoking, somber dialogue and failing relationships. I guess that's why they call it the Lost Generation. Something about his writing, however, is still very engaging and enjoyable. It's a unique style of prose, and sometimes the inebriated conversations are quite insightful.

My charge nurse hadn't read A Farewell to Arms, but he insisted that I come up with the worst possible conclusion for the book, and that would be the actual ending. With 50 pages to go, I predicted the death of Catherine's baby. I thought it would be a little over the top to predict Catherine's death too, and I was holding on to a shred of hope that she'd survive the book.

With 4 pages to go, the Catherine's nurse explains to Henry that the baby is stillborn. No surprise there. Surely, I thought to myself, with 3 pages to go, Catherine will live. Imagine my dismay when on the second-to-last page, Catherine suffers severe hemorrhaging and dies in the matter of a paragraph. You've done it again, Hemingway. And there's my charge nurse, dancing to Wolf Creek Pass, and gloating at the fulfillment of his prophecy.

1 comment:

  1. Please read "A Moveable Feast"'s got to be the best Hemmingway by far.

    I once read nothing but Hemmingway for a summer. At the end I wanted to shoot myself, but it was still beautiful.