The first Hemingway I read was The Old Man & the Sea.
I didn’t read it in high school, or college. I read it in China, summer 2009. I’d bought it from a Hong Kong bookstore earlier that year. Back then (and maybe today, it’s a safe bet) Wuhan did not have a wide selection of English books. Even the much-touted store on Zhongnan Lu had little more than classic books.
I did most of my book buying through Albiris and later Thriftbooks. I did grab a few from some street vendors in Wudaokou on trips to Beijing, which netted me a copy of the fabulous Time Traveler’s Wife, a pirated copy whose text began repeating near the end.
Here’s a passage I underlined almost seven (seven!?) years ago:
He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.
Beautiful, isn’t it?