When i finished the book last night, i sat down and began writing this with the intent to email it to my immediate family. This morning when i sat down at this infernal machine again, i decided i would like all of my family and friends to have access to it. i changed it a little, added a little, and…here it is:
I did not read The Blackboard Jungle. I saw the movie shortly after it came out in 1955. It was Sidney Poitier’s breakout film starring Glenn Ford. It was also disturbing to me for many different reasons. I did not realize until tonight it was written by Evan Hunter.
I did read Far from the Sea. i finished it tonight. It was equally disturbing for me for many different reasons than The Blackboard Jungle movie.
I am not recommending any of you, especially Blythe, Jason, Sarah, Maureen, or even later Sam read it. That should be your choice, and Blythe, knowing your dislike of sad endings you so well expressed after i got you to read Hemmingway’s Farewell to Arms, i don’t think you should consider it at all. The ending is not exactly sad, but the ending is more along the lines of the feelings i got at the end of The Graduate.
How did i get to this point?
Well, i read a ton of the 87th precinct police novels, which Evan Hunter, nee Salvatore Albert Lombino, wrote under the pen name Ed McBain, wrote and wrote and wrote (He wrote an astonishing 100 novels under that pen name). It was a long time ago, but i read at least a dozen of the crime novels. I liked his stuff. When i learned he wrote more “serious” fiction, i read his novel under the name of Evan Hunter. I don’t remember the novel, not even the name but i was impressed. Sometime around then, i bought Far from the Sea and put it in my library. Over two months ago, i pulled it out of the bookshelf.
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Reading again. You see i have been dormant in my reading for quite some time. There were always other things to do, which seemed so much more important at the time. And to be truthful, it hurt to read or re-read the authors i once loved to read: Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Twain, Greene, Wouk, Doctorow, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tolkein, and my two favorites Faulkner and Warren, because i was writing more and knew instantly with each sentence read, i would never achieve their incredible talent for writing. So i sort of quit, one, two, possibly three a year. But i wrote a lot.
You see, when i retired i had for years been building my library. I would hate to think, as my mother worried over and over again, how much money i spent on books, music, and sports, both participating and watching with the two last spending activities. It was a chunk, enough to feed the poor in a small third world country. But i have a magnificent library for me now. It’s behind me as i write, or most of it. The Durant’s histories, the Harvard Classics, The Franklin Library collection, sports, leadership, management, religions, politics, Navy, history, philosophy. When i retired…er, completed my Navy active duty service the day Sarah was born in 1989, i planned to read them all, and more. Haven’t got there yet, but hell, it’s only been twenty-nine years and counting. But i have been working and writing a lot…and playing golf and exercising and watching sports and going to symphonies and going to plays (no, not many movies: i watch my old favorites on television occasionally). Excuses.
So as this old age thing started catching up with me, i vowed to myself to stop with the excuses and get back to the reading i loved. After all, i did love it and still do. Just haven’t done it. So i have read three books this month and starting on my fourth.
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This one, Hunter’s Far from the Sea, has been difficult. First off, i didn’t like it. i didn’t like any of the characters. i did not like the premise. i did not like the plot. i didn’t like the focus on sex. i almost put it back in the bookshelf several times, but that would have betrayed my oath to myself, so i plodded. Just a little over half way through, i discovered i couldn’t put it away for a while, couldn’t quit thinking about it when i did. It was still difficult to read. i still did not like much about it. i could put it down, but i began to go back to it in shorter and shorter times in between. Two days after turning seventy-five, i sat down and read for more than two hours, a new record for the old me, and finished around 2230.
As i said, i felt like i felt at the end of “The Graduate.” Only it seemed so much more personal.
Hunter had a lot to say to me. i didn’t want to hear it but i did and it finally made sense. It was really a happy ending after what i thought was the denouement. But it didn’t feel like a happy ending.
It was powerful, and if i hadn’t read it and know what i know now, i would read it. i got a lot out of it for me. Personally.
And after all, that is really what reading is all about, isn’t it.
I’m still not recommending you read it.