Review: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Review: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

This book should be called A Farewell to Commas, because holy run-on sentences‼️

(Just working on my literature-based standup. But really, sometimes it’s too much; there’s one sentence in this book that uses “and” 22 TIMES 😵‍💫)

I got this book at the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West last year and am only just getting around to reading it—which kind of worked out great, because I read War and Peace last year, and this was like War and Peace Lite.

All the war, one-fifth the page count.

A bleak tale about war and loss, this novel is based on Hemingway’s real-life experience as an ambulance driver and medic in the Italian army during WWI.

It’s also based on his real-life experience falling in love with an English nurse during the war. And, as I learned on my tour of the Hemingway home, IRL his nurse left him for another man, so he got revenge the best way writers know how: he killed her off in his book.

(Sorry, are spoilers a thing for 93-year-old novels? 😬)

A Farewell to Arms is an unflinching depiction of the horrors of war that likely was much needed in 1929 when people couldn’t see the harsh realities of it daily on TV. And Hemingway’s writing is almost timeless, because his language is too clear, straightforward, and simple to be dated.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐.5/5

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.

—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Review: Working on a Song by Anaïs Mitchell

Review: Working on a Song by Anaïs Mitchell

Love!!! ❤️

Imagine the stories of Greek mythology set in a Great Depression Era-inspired, post-apocalyptic world, where the seasons are out of tune, there’s a train to hell, people swig wine out of tin cups, and they hope for spring despite the cold and dark 🌱

Hadestown is a bittersweet and refreshingly original musical written by folk singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell that won the 2019 Tony for Best Musical. It’s my favorite new musical since Hamilton, and I actually like it more — it’s more elusive and poetic, and I feel more things about it every time I see or listen to it.

This is my second time reading this book by Mitchell about her journey writing the music, specifically the lyrics, for the show, and it’s a true masterclass in storytelling through song.

Hadestown started as a folk concept album, and over 10+ years of workshops, feedback, and a few divine jolts of inspiration, the final polished Broadway musical was born. But it was messy along the way; Mitchell had to learn to adapt her folk-writing approach to a dramatic story with characters and plot. She had to make cuts. She had to rearrange. And rewrite. Again. And again. She had to work to balance the poetry with the practical.

And she did it beautifully ✨️

I find Mitchell’s writing journey so inspiring, because when you’re frustrated with your creative output it can be easy to give up — why bang your head against the wall trying to get it right when it seems like you never will?

Hadestown is the answer 🌹

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

What is seen and heard onstage is the blooming flower, but most of the plant is underground. Every line, verse, or chorus—every idea any of us who worked on it ever had, even the ones that never saw the light of day—they’re down there. They’re the roots of the plant, and the flower wouldn’t exist without them.

—Anais Mitchell, Working on a Song

You’d Sing Too

by Leonard Cohen

You’d sing too
if you found yourself
in a place like this
You wouldn’t worry about
whether you were as good
as Ray Charles or Edith Piaf
You’d sing

You’d sing
not for yourself
but to make a self
out of the old food
rotting in the astral bowel
and the loveless thud
of your own breathing
You’d become a singer
faster than it takes
to hate a rival’s charm

And you’d sing, darling
You’d sing too