Green Hills of Africa

by Ernest Hemingway

I could not like this one. I tried really hard- read a third of it. It\’s about a safari trip Hemingway made to East Africa with his wife (referred to in the book only as P.O.M. – Poor Old Mama- took me a while to figure that out) and a few friends, to hunt big game. Their goal was to get as many large animals as their license permitted during the allotted timeframe- rhino, lions, kudu, giraffe, zebra for their hides, etc. Hemingway was obsessed with getting a larger rhino than his companion, a kudu with bigger horns, etc. He took pride in making a good, clean shot- and while I can admire the skill- I found the attitudes overall very distasteful. Even though he describes in one passage having suffered a terrible war wound in the past, so he knows what it feels like to have been shot- and thus is determined to always make a clean kill so the animals don\’t suffer long. Yet he describes in detail how one of his companions always laughed hilariously at the sudden contortions animals made when hit hard from a far distance- stunned, in shock and agony, flipping head over heels or spinning in circles- I didn\’t find that funny at all. I\’ve read other hunting accounts that were interesting and showed enough respect for the animals, enjoyment of the challenge that I was okay with it. Yes, these were different times and attitudes but still. It was too crass for me. The descriptive writing of the landscape, environment and native peoples did not make up for that. The cursory manner Hemingway used to refer to his companions- barely describing them at all so I rarely knew who was who- and half the time had no idea what their conversations were about- didn\’t redeem it for me either. I did like reading his opinions on other writers- in the evening, after stalking and shooting at animals all day, Hemingway and his companions would sit around the camp getting drunk, reading books and discussing literature. Really full of their own opinions. Some great thoughts in there and pointed observations, but if I wanted to read literary criticism I\’d much rather have a book about just that, without all the amusement on the part of animals dying with their hides blasted open so he and his friends could get all the trophies they\’d paid for. I\’m feeling sore about this, as you can tell. Don\’t care for Hemingway now.

Abandoned                  207 pages, 1935

3 Responses

  1. I haven't tried to read this but have tried a couple of others in the same vein and not got past the first couple of chapters. Couldn't stomach the mass carnage in one. I know attitudes were different back then but honestly, did they have no heart?

  2. \”Even though he describes in one passage having suffered a terrible war wound in the past, so he knows what it feels like to have been shot- and thus is determined to always make a clean kill so the animals don't suffer long. \”Or he could, you know, just not shoot things since he knows what it's like…This sounds like a big, big skip for me.

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