Always quite liked the idea of him as a writer but whenever I’ve bought his books I’ve found them dull as fuck. Dunno, just seems dialogue-heavy and bland.

Used to buy into the ol’ haunted writer shit, but watching a Ken Burns series on him and it leaves me with massive nobhead vibes.

Interested in opinions, more on his writing than the man, but either…

Massive, massive twat.

That said, For Whom The Bell Tolls has got the bleakest ending of anything I’ve read. Felt a bit blank for a couple of days after that.

I watched the series comes across as a big enough prick to not want to read his stuff anymore tbh.

I really enjoyed A Moveable Feast when i read it at Uni though

Started reading A Moveable Feast a while back and gave up when he started discussing his favourite place to buy coal in Paris. Bit dull


a true #coaltalk pioneer


Loved For Whom the Bell Tolls, but honestly that could be as much down to my interest in the SCW as much as anything else. Seemed like a great narrative to me though. The relationship between Pilar and the male leader of the squad always stuck with me for some reason. I think I found it very realistically human in a lot of ways.

I also really enjoyed A Farewell to Arms. Again, it was about a period of history I was studying at the time, but I remember it being very moving. If you haven’t tried that one yet I’d recommend it.

Then again, I quite like dialogue, so probably best to ignore me on this one.

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Only read The Old Man and the Sea, but it is pretty much perfect. Not a lot of dialogue and it is quite short, worth a read before you write him off entirely.


Old Man and the Sea is brilliant. Have also read the short story collection ‘Men Without Women’ which I loved (bleak, as a heads up)

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I’m 5/6th through the doc, enjoying it, it’s fairly well made and sensitive in the right places

Not actually a huge fan of his writing- Old man and the sea I remember as being quite poetic and haunting, but I found the Sun also rises exceptionally tedious. Think Fitzgerald does the American ennui so much better.

There’s a great quote from Carson McCullers saying something like:

I have more to say than Hemingway and can damn well say it better than Faulkner.

Hemingway himself is simultaneously quite fascinating and a completely predictable bore. There’s a good book by Olivia Laing discussing 6 classic American writers, all who fell prey to alcoholism.

I’m struggling with the narration. Is it Tom Hanks?

Burns set such a high standard with Vietnam. Bit underwhelmed.

Def not Tom Hanks, can’t remember the name though- apparently he read it completely cold, which you might be able to hear

I haven’t seen the Vietnam doc, worth checking out then? That’s my Saturday nights sorted for the next while…

Utterly, utterly brilliant.

The finest documentary series I’ve seen by far and without question.


Hemingway is revered yet McCullers, to a large extent, is still obscure as ever. No justice there.

Have never understood the adulation heaped upon Hemingway. Find him impossible to read. There are so many better American writers.

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Oof- will seek it out then

I don’t actually know a huge amount about it past the big classic American movies

He’s in many ways an example of male domination…you can see in the doc how he marginalised the work of his own wives

I think one thing the doc is good at is talking about his methods/ways of writing- using music as an inspiration etc.

Nothing that insightful to his stuff in my experience, a farewell to arms is genuinely good though
Old man and the sea is an okay yarn for an afternoon too

Think it was in A Moveable Feast where you see this most conspicuously as well - the way he made Fitzgerald seem like a baby he constantly had to oversee was pretty transparent in its motives. Not to mention all the other peers he trashed. I do like his novels though!

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This is the only one I’ve read. I did actually have a copy of A Farewell To Arms that I thought made it to Aus but clearly not.

Anyway, I enjoyed For Whom the Bell Tolls for the reasons you stated but also he had a way of writing the English prose when they were speaking Spanish that really was somehow different. Not sure what he did exactly but I guess maybe he was sort of going ‘lightly Yoda’ in the grammar. Whatever it was you definitely felt like those bits were in another language and I really appreciated that subtlety.

Also in direct answer to @bugduv I don’t recall it being loads of dialogue and actually thought of it as quite an action-packed story, TBH.

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Quite enjoyed the few episodes of the series I’ve seen, even though I’m not a enormous fan of his or anything. Just find it quite simple and soothing to watch, weirdly.

+1 for the Vietnam War doc though, stunning television. If you can find the extended editions anywhere I’d recommend that too.

i’ve read a couple of his novels but remember hardly anything about them afterwards. i think i struggle to get invested in that really disconnected 20th century American male writer style where it’s just like “Then this happened. Then this happened. John said “Shit.” I sighed. I lit another cigarette.” just really boring tbh.

i read a few of his short stories once it kinda worked better in that format though.