Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hills Like White Elephants

WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT... this story came to mind when considering Blue Valentine as a story without a middle. Hemingway's short 'Hills Like White Elephants' is alternately a story without a beginning or an end. It's a snapshot of a conversation and a portrait of a relationship written almost 90 years prior to Blue Valentine but with an equally deft portrayal of a difficult and unfair conversation.

A taste:

The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glass on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.

‘They look like white elephants,’ she said.

‘I’ve never seen one,’ the man drank his beer.

‘No, you wouldn’t have.’

‘I might have,’ the man said. ‘Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.’

The girl looked at the bead curtain. ‘They’ve painted something on it,’ she said. ‘What does it say?’

Anis del Toro. It’s a drink.’

‘Could we try it?’

The man called ‘Listen’ through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.

‘Four reales.’ ‘We want two Anis del Toro.’

‘With water?’

‘Do you want it with water?’

‘I don’t know,’ the girl said. ‘Is it good with water?’

‘It’s all right.’

‘You want them with water?’ asked the woman.

‘Yes, with water.’

‘It tastes like liquorice,’ the girl said and put the glass down.

‘That’s the way with everything.’

‘Yes,’ said the girl. ‘Everything tastes of liquorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.’

‘Oh, cut it out.’

‘You started it,’ the girl said. ‘I was being amused. I was having a fine time.’

‘Well, let’s try and have a fine time.’

‘All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn’t that bright?’

‘That was bright.’

‘I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks?’

I love that last line. It reminds me of something Daisy would say. And that drink reminds me of the "Americano" served at Locanda Vini E Olii, where that photo was taken up top. LOVE that place. It also reminds me that I want to visit Spain. And that Hemingway was ahead of his time.

Full text here.

1 comment:

Gail said...

I love how this picture fits in with your selection! I recognize the hands;-)