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Islands in the Stream Paperback – Dec 10 1997
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"Many of the episodes contain the most exciting and effective writing Hemingway has ever done." -- John W. Aldridge Saturday Review "This book contains some of the best of Hemingway's descriptions of nautre: the waves breaking white and green on the reef off the coast of Cuba; the beauty of the morning on the deep water; the hermit crabs and land crabs and ghost crabs; a big barracuda stalking mullet; a heron flying with his white wings over the green water; the ibis and flamingoes and spoonbills, the last of these beautiful with the sharp rose of their color; the mosquitoes in clouds from the marshes; the water that curled and blew under the lash of the wind; the sculpture that the wind and sand had made of a piece of driftwood, gray and sanded and embedded in white, floury sand." -- Edmund Wilson Saturday Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This novel has three parts about Thomas Hudson. The first is the one I like the most. It starts out slow, but a fight and a deep fishing scene create excitement, and I couldn't put the novel down. Hemingway, a master of tragedy, creates another tragic ending. The second part is not the great, but not that bad. It deals with his life during the war and a reunion with his first wife. The third part reminds me off "For Whom the Bells Toll" because it seems more action packed than the rest of the novel. The first two parts are based on human interaction, while the third is a chase at sea for a German U-boat crew.
This is a great novel and I highly recommend it if you like Hemingway.
The literal islands are allegories for the protagonist Thomas Hudson’s personal islands. In the case of Bimini the island is his family of four sons who come to visit and a couple of friends. On Cuba the island is Hudson’s family of cats. He is known as a man who loves cats. The literal stream is the gulfstream. It is a current in the ocean that brings danger in the form of sharks, a Marlin Swordfish and U boats. Fighting happens there and it is both beautiful and dangerous. It is an allegory for life, something akin to the river of life. It takes Hudson’s life. In the end the last words reveal that Hudson is an island onto himself. An introverted self focused man who likes to be alone. He misses the fact that he is loved by others. He doesn’t like women to be close, but he can’t live without them. He is the kind of man who entertains himself while alone.
This story was published after the author’s death so he didn’t have any input on the last draft. Given that, I didn’t really notice his pared down style or his economical use of words. I did notice his ability to say things without writing them as in the case of the death of Peters.Read more ›
...in that order. I'd probably give this book 3.5 stars, somewhere between it was good and it was OK, if I could.
The first of the three sections of this novel is truly good. It introduces us to Thomas Hudson, a painter and a thinly veiled Hemingway, and his life on the island of Bimini. Hudson, like Hemingway, is an artist who is serious about his craft and about his work ethic. We learn of his life among the characters of the island, including the locals and his friends. The richest part of all is the visit of his three sons (by his first two wives) and the good times they share. There is good character development of all three boys, each so different from the others and each showing different parts of their father's personality. And there are the friends and servants of Hudson's, whom he loves and who play important parts in his son's lives, often where it is difficult for a father to enter. There is a tense shark attack and an epic battle with a monster marlin by the middle son, and there is a great deal of psychology of boys and men woven richly throughout. Hudson is a father who can't seem to love all-out, whole-heartedly, even though his sons need and want it. The feelings are there but the wiring in Hudson's head and heart shorts out a little and never conducts his deepest, truest self to his boys. Tragically, Hudson learns of the death of his two youngest sons and their mother (his second wife) at the close of the story.Read more ›
The book, broken into three distinct sections, recounts chapters in the life of Thomas Hudson, a somewhat thinly veiled version of Hemingway. That's not to say that this is a story about Hemingway himself, but its pretty clear there is a lot of Hemingway in Hudson.
The first section, considered by many to be the best (and, as a I recall, the focus of the film made of the book), takes place in Bimini, where Hudson is leading a fairly idyllic life. The second is centered in Cuba but has an entirely different tone from that of the first. Whereas the "Bimini" section is almost light-hearted and somewhat breezy, the tone of the Cuba section has changed dramatically. Hudson is now a depressed individual having lost a son in an accident. He has a reunion with his first wife, but even though she is the love of his life, he knows it won't end happily. The third part, "At Sea," recounts Hudson's efforts as a Nazi sub hunter.
Hemingway is at his best throughout much of the book, his men are all striving to prove that they are, well, men, or at least the ideal of what a man should be in Hemingway's eyes. And naturally enough, no Hemingway man, in this case Hudson, would be complete without a little tragedy in his life. "At Sea," while powerfully told, seems somehow incomplete, which may well be the case since I do not think Hemingway completed the book before his death. In fact, the ending seemed extremely abrupt and left me wondering, did Hudson survive his wounds?
Still, this is some of Hemingway's best work. A must read. The only reason I did not give it five stars is because of the abrupt ending and a few other brief passages in the book that seem somehow incomplete and unfinished.
Most recent customer reviews
Isn't it amazing how patriotism can cure alcoholism.
Interesting to see what people do when they loose their family and friends.
Of the Hemingway books I've read or tried to read, Islands in the Stream is my favorite thus far. All the great and not-so-great elements of his legendary style are here, from the... Read morePublished on April 15 2003 by David A. Bede
_Islands in the Stream_ is my favorite novel by Ernest Hemingway. Like most of his works, the prose is relatively sparse but very readable and very entertaining. Read morePublished on April 4 2003 by Ross James Browne
If the first section on Bimini (the Island on the Stream [the gulf stream for those who still do not understand]) was package by itself it would have received 5 stars. Read morePublished on April 2 2003 by B. Bond
This is a good - bad book. The good is the first part, set in Bimini in 1940, and the third part, which describes the hunt for a U-Boat crew off the coast of Cuba. Read morePublished on March 23 2002 by Walter Boldys
Before this book, my two favorite Hemingway novels of fiction were The Old Man And The Sea (in my top three of all time!) and The Sun Also Rises.
Not any longer. Read more
Ernest Hemingway's Islands in the Stream is my favorite book by Hemingway, and indeed, my favorite book. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 2001