Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wilder Words + Musings: On Loving Hemingway (and) A Few of His Gems

I love Hemingway. It's probably a cliché to love him as much as I do. But to those who would argue that it is, I ask you this: have you ever read a better opening to a story than the sentence above? The answer is probably no, and if you can think of a better one, please tell me because I’d love to read it.

My affair with old Ernest began in college, when one of my best and dearest friends gave me Islands in the Stream, Hemingway’s last work that was published posthumously. I’d read a few of his stories and novels in high school, and while I appreciated them, I didn't dig deeper and read other things he'd written. But Islands in the Stream rekindled my interest (I even posted about it in the early days of TWT, and it was a Wilder Words in March). It gave me a sense of Hemingway as a tired and slightly broken man; it has less bravado than his earlier, more assertive works. It is a sad book. His brilliance with language, however, his ability to craft his words exactly and clearly, didn't waver even at the very end (more after the jump).

After I read Islands in the Stream, I then promptly read everything else he ever wrote. Or so I thought, until I was talking with a friend last week and he mentioned The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber as being one of Hemingway’s greatest short stories. I had somehow missed it.

I started reading it a few days later. It was 6:30 on a Saturday and I was biding some time before meeting friends for dinner at 7. Suffice it to say that I was not on time for the meal. It is astounding, and I was riveted (I'll admit that I got a little nervous as I read because the plot was so tense). If you haven't read it yet, do so.

As a result, this past weekend I went on a Hemingway kick and re-read many of his other short stories. As I did, I collected quotes from them that I found especially moving, funny, and true, and I've written some of them out. Here’s hoping they inspire you as much as they did me.


  1. " must make your whole life in the two nights that are given to you; that living as we do now you must concentrate all of that which you should always have into the short time that you can have it."- For Whom the Bell Tolls

    1. I love that. Thanks to whomever Anonymous is.


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