As a rule, I would think reading is preferable to listening to a book. But this audiobook, read by William Hurt, challenges the assumption. I was enjoying the writing so much that I went back and found that I had an old [Bantam 1954 and literally falling apart as I go] paperback and went back and read some of my favorite lines. But Hurt’s reading is great. Aside from the pronunciation of the French and Spanish names, he adds a real personality to some of the lines [e.g. adding a sarcastic edge to, ‘Try and take it sometime. Try and take it.’] and the accents [Harvey’s Southern] are a real advantage.
Here’s my as-you-go chapter summary:
- Robert Cohn is described by a friend, one of two, Jake. Hemingway’s style is very distinctive; using short and plain sentences.
- Cohn’s marriage is ending. Jake has a very detached attitude towards his friend.
- Jake meets Georgette. Brett is introduced. A typical Paris evening for the non-working [and drunkard – Jake had 5 drinks and shared 2 bottles of wine] class is described.
- Jake and Bret were, or are, in love. Jake’s war injury has apparently incapacitated him sexually.
- Cohn’s weird; he’s got the hots for Brett
- Cohn dumps Frances and puts up with her scene. Harvey Stone very funny. Hemingway rags on Mencken.