‘Basically it’s about a man; the sea and a huge fish,’ I reply to my girlfriend’s question, as I lay sinking into our comfortable sofa. I’m on page 50 of the thinnest book I’ve ever owned, and
is being pulled further and further out to sea - and I have to say; I’m slightly concerned for him. I so wish the boy had gone with him; Santiago is way too old to be out there fishing alone. And now he’s hooked this huge Marlin that he desperately needs to catch, but which might not even fit into his boat. Santiago
You should know; that this is the first book by Hemingway that I’ve ever read. Criminal: fans might think? How the f**k has a guy in his 40s, who loves reading, never read any Hemingway? Or maybe, if you truly love EHs works, you’re feeling insanely jealous towards me? After all, I have read none of his books – it’s all still virgin to me.
To be honest with you, I just don’t know why I’ve never read any of his books, but here I am now, being towed out into the wide ocean with
, and I’m scared for him. I’m scared because I can’t tell what’s going to happen. Is he going to get the fish in; or will it escape, breaking the line, and Santiago. My money at the moment, is on the weather changing. The old man seems confident it will hold, but in the distance, I’m sure I can see a storm building on the horizon. Santiago
This is what I love about reading non fiction: the escapism, the way you assemble another reality in your head, regardless of your surroundings. I could be squashed on a busy train; or waiting for a hospital appointment on a hard plastic chair, or even laying on our big comfortable sofa after a day at work. I could be anywhere in the world, in any circumstance, but a great writer will transport me to another time or place, or even another life. He can show me things I might never see - great armies fighting each other as the gods look down from above, or two lovers sharing secret, hidden moments together. I can travel with him to places I will never see in my life; or even histories past that no one will ever see.
My girlfriend starts to cook tea, while I stay put on the sofa (don’t worry, we take turns at cooking). At some stage - as the sun dips and darkness creeps in from the east, filling the room with long shadows - she turns the house lights on. The jangling of pans and cutlery, and the smells of Indian food drift in from the kitchen, as I rejoin poor Santiago, afloat on the sea, which I can hear lapping against the side of his weathered skiff.