Friday, August 27, 2010

"Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway

Source: Miette's Bedtime Story Podcast
Length: 11 minutes
Reader: Miette

The story: When I read this story in high school, I hated it. I had no idea what the two characters were talking about or who they were. This is a story about subtlety; it's an overheard conversation where you don't know anything about the speakers, but enough hints are dropped to figure out the outlines of their situation.

The key to the story is the title. Back in high school, I had never heard the expression "white elephant"; we didn't do white elephant Christmas present exchanges back then (if I recall correctly, we called it a "Yankee Swap" as a slur against Northerners).  Nowadays, we call a present that we don't want a "White Elephant", but the original meaning was a gift of an albino elephant: a great honor in Southeast Asia, but one that could potentially bankrupt the recipient with the high cost of its upkeep. In relation to this story, I wonder: what present could a man and his girlfriend give each other that one would see as a financial burden and the other would see as a wonderful gift?

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Miette, as always, does a wonderful job reading this story. Her British accent is beautiful and easy to listen to. There's some background noise and the recording is a little bit quiet, but these issues are easily overlooked.

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