What is it about Hemingway that you read him and think that he's the closest we've got to an objectively correct style of writing?
Anyway. This was my first long-form Hemingway novel, having heretofore subsisted on his short stories and essays. (It's entirely possible I read The Old Man and the Sea in high school, but I don't remember doing so.) It is funny to read this book and its contrast with the popular perception of Hemingway (Corey Stoll's charming caricature in Midnight in Paris ↗ playing no small role in shaping mine, at least) — the gonzo musclebound vermouth-chugging American Man who spends an entire novel dreading war and then suffering from PTSD. (Somewhat reminiscent of my experience reading Infinite Jest ↗, a novel whose popular perception is dominated by hypermasculine ironic dudebros who love weed and drinking and is in fact about radical earnestness and the dark miracle of substance abuse.)
I liked it a lot. I thought it was moving. I think you could sum up its thesis as, roughly, war is a blight and you must live very quickly in a blight, and of course the ending that swerves so quickly and honestly into bleakness you can see it coming in just enough time — how does that not stick with you?
I'm not sure what else to say: Hemingway's style does not leave a lot up to discursiveness. The only thing I jotted down over its reading was the depiction of the first World War not as a theatrical conflict between two largely homogenous forces but as something deeply native (the terror at the emergence of German forces; the distinct personalities of the Italians as compared to the Brits, etc.). Also, if you're an audiobook person — John Slattery (of Mad Men fame) did a pretty superb reading.