I generally adore Hemingway, so now that I’ve finally started reading Florida, I picked up To Have and Have Not for some Key West and on-the-water scenery.

It is an ugly book.

Filled with racial slurs and woman-abuse, mean, vile characters, and raw violence, To Have and Have Not had few redeeming qualities. I rarely despise a book, but I despised this one. There were a couple of scenes on the crossing from Key West to Cuba, under the stars and on the water, that eased the brutality somewhat, but not enough. If you want gorgeous writing about The Gulf of Mexico, read The Old Man and the Sea. It is a beautiful book. To Have and Have Not is not.

Now I’m in the mood for a good Florida-set book that incorporates sailing. Any ideas?

6 thoughts on “I do not recommend To Have and Have Not

  1. Might I suggest Christine Kling’s Seychelle Sullivan books? The author herself is an avid sailor and this series, which starts with Surface Tension, features a female captain working salvage off the coast of Florida. You immediately know that you’re in the story-telling hands of someone who knows her way around boats. To be clear, this isn’t high literature, but I found the series to be very entertaining mystery/suspense reads.

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  2. Agreed ! Hemingway failed to make Key West come alive. In fact, it seems like two separate tomes, disjointed, and very much thrown-at-the-page to see what would stick.

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  3. I agree-it’s a dark view of humanity where the haves (tax cheats, bootleggers and professional sons-in-law) don’t occupy a much higher moral plane than the have nots (smugglers and murderers), tho’ they occupy pricier boats. I re-read it lately because the book Trip To Echo Spring postulates that insomnia, more than alcoholism drove Hemingway to suicide. And his characters do often exhibit an oppressive insomnia.
    For Florida books, anything by Carl Hiaasen–but sailing and scenery descriptions are not his forte. His is the realm of corrupt politicians, sleazy land developers, and various slime balls of the Sunshine State. Great fun!

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