What I understand of Hemingway #1

I recently finished Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. It was an excellent read, and afterwards I found myself wondering why its clipped sentences and narrative structure were so appealing. I could not understand why the book was so good, because I’m not literate enough to appreciate the nuances of writing. Here, I’d like to talk about what inferences I arrived at in the ruminations that followed. I hope anyone who reads this and has thoughts about Hemingway’s writing will put something down in the comments.

 First of all, it struck me as one of the most realistic pieces of fiction I’ve read. Perhaps this was because I knew Hemingway was a Bullfighting enthusiast. I might have supposed that while tackling a theme so close to his heart, the man would have told the truth as it happened. Whatever the reason, I ended up ‘believing’ in what he was saying.

 Secondly, the use of dialogue is impressive. The author frequently has three or more characters conversing in back to back lines of dialogue, without any narrative indication of who is talking when. The speaker is implicit in the speech. Just by looking at what has been said, it is easy for the reader to determine who it was that said it.

 There is also the matter of Hemingway’s iceberg theory, which I read about and could not grasp fully. The name refers to the characteristic of icebergs to be only one-tenth above the waters’ surface. The rest of an iceberg is lurking beneath, invisible to a viewer above sea level. Hemingway theorizes that omitting from the text elements the writer has firm knowledge of leaves only a sense of them with the reader. Leaving out what can be felt, he seems to say, gives more strength to the story’s structure. He also warns that leaving out something the author does not know gives the impression of holes in the narrative.

 In The Sun Also Rises, it is clear that the narrator, Jake, has suffered a war wound that has left him disabled in some manner. It is only through implication that it is made known that the effect the wound has had on him is to make him impotent. This fact becomes very clear to the reader, although it is never stated. Is this an application of the Iceberg Theory? All the examples I’ve read about of the theory being in practice have been more relating to the overall theme of a work than specific instances like this.

 The novel appears quite blatantly to slander Jews. I suppose Anti-Semitism and racism were more accepted in the early twentieth century than they are now. Also, the characters’ prodigious consumption of alcohol seemed to me, in parts, a little funny.

Gainful Employment?

I’ve been considering getting a job for a while. Freelancing is a lot of fun, but I haven’t been doing it much, and money needs to come from somewhere. So recently, I applied to a media house for work as, primarily, a writer. The problem (even if I get through) is that theres a blanket ban on their writers doing any other freelance work…

Pondering is taking place.

Anyway, they asked me to write a sample review for them – and they left the choice of what to critique to me. This is what I did –

CID Episode: “Ekta Special MMS Qatl”

In an industry where ‘good’ gave way a long time ago to ‘so bad it’s good’ as a standard
to aspire to, CID is like a T-Rex among dust-mites. Nothing even approaches it in raw camp
appeal. The original Indian Police Procedural has been running for over eleven years, and
despite the money it must have made, stays true to its roots. Be it the cut-rate effects or slipshod
dialogues, it’s more or less the same as it was at its inception in 1997.

This episode is a CID classic. On Indian TV, gratuitous product placement can actually
attract audiences - so there has been no attempt to disguise Ekta Kapoor’s special appearance
as anything else. She is inserted in the story by the sort of implausible guesswork that’s a CID
hallmark. The mere mention of a celebrity-killer, who sends out MMS videos of his victims
dying, prompts the investigators to conclude that Ekta will be his next target. Why? Because
she’s producing a film whose title happens to have the word MMS in it. Neat.

Kapoor, playing herself, illustrates why she didn’t take up the profession her father made
his name in, and which her brother attempts. She is utterly self-conscious in her carriage and
delivers lines looking right into the camera. In the show, she is supposed to be at a promotional
event for Ragini MMS, so she is able to tout her film with almost every line.
The heart grows fonder for Shivaji Satam’s crazy eyes. His character, ACP Pradhyuman,
is supposed to be in Delhi wrapping up other business - no doubt with stinging slaps that teleport
criminals straight to CID headquarters.

All said and done, CID is one of the most entertaining shows on TV, and Kapoor is one
of the best publicists of her productions. Working together, they look to make money, not sense.
Ladies and gents, this is the stuff TRPs are made of.


Fillums Criticized

I think I’ve reviewed three films in not much more than a week, and it’s making me a bad person. Being high-handed about other people’s artistic efforts can’t be good as far as karma goes, but I can’t see any other way I could make this stuff even mildly interesting.