Saturday, September 11, 2010
Islands in the Stream
Islands is part of Hemingway's posthumous body of work, published in 1970 under the auspices of his last wife, Mary Hemingway. It was carved out of the UR text that Hemingway worked on after the war, which ultimately produced (or spawned) The Old Man and the Sea, The Garden of Eden, this work, and by extension, A Moveable Feast.
Islands is a compelling novel, and in terms of structure and action, the best of the posthumous works. It drags a bit on dialogue; there are times when the reader feels he has read parts already. But beyond that, the novel stands on its own as a work, and also provides glimpses into Hemingway's post-war preoccupations. There are long mediations on the nature of art, productivity, and the act of expression. There is a longing look cast backward, toward Paris, which found greater expression in A Moveable Feast.
The novel is also unremittingly dark. We get a glimpse into the Hemingway in his declining years, as his power receded, and his depression and anxiety rose.