Book: Big Two-Hearted River

Book Big Two-Hearted River

Sometimes, as the saying goes, the old ways are the best. So too with literature—in this case, Big Two-Hearted River (Mariner Classics, $25), Ernest Hemingway’s classic short story about fishing, solace, and battle fatigue, now almost 100 years old and reprinted as its own book, complete with appropriately austere black-and-white illustrations. If, like me, you last read this story decades ago, you’ll feel “all the old feeling,” as the main character himself does at the beginning of the story. If you’ve never read it, do so. It’s a quick read—30 minutes or so—and eminently relatable for outdoors folk who understand the healing power of nature. Don’t expect to be dazzled by the diction and syntax; this is early Hemingway, when he was perfecting his style: sparse, mellifluous, rich with hidden meaning. Instead, allow it to soak in, like afternoon sunshine along a winding trout stream. Only later, after the feeling has faded, allow yourself to ponder the story’s ongoing relevance, given all the fly-fishing nonprofits helping people with psychological trauma these days. Which of course is what makes the story a classic: the old ways are the new ways, too.