The story is about Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman that heads out to the waters, farther then normal, to try and catch something after 84 days of nothing. Using very old methods, the “old man” hooks into an enormous marlin, but even he doesn’t realize how big it is until later. His fight seems to first end in triumph, but it soon turns to what the old man wishes was just a dream.
When I received my copy of this book (thank you BookMooch), I was surprised to see how short it really was. I knew the page count was low, but even the typeface in this edition was huge and double-spaced. It felt like a pamphlet compared to books that I have read. But oh what a pamphlet it is.
It is not overly written. The prose is simple. But much like Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” (or should I say "The Road is more like this book), it is the story of human spirit and survival. Though survival on other terms in this case. It captures that which pushes people beyond what they ever thought they could accomplish. Yet this story doesn’t end on the happiest of notes. Still it gives the reader much to be had in such a short story.
This book won Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize and helped him earn the Nobel Prize for literature a year later. I can see why after reading it. And what I have read about his writing is that this book finishes very different then the typical Hemingway-fare. It also revived his career many say. It would be interesting to read more by “Papa.” I have only scratched the surface with this and “The Nick Adams Stories” a couple of summers ago. However it’s the ending that made this story more enduring. Having the “trophy picture” at the end may be nice, but it’s not reality. Though if his earlier works evoke the same “I-must-keep-going” drive, then they may be worth pursuing.