An Earnest Dissection of Hemingway

October 25, 2010

When I was a lad, I used to love writing lists, poetry, and stories on my family’s computer. Within the depths of the confusing toolbar of Corel WordPerfect I discovered many fascinating features that have long since been integrated into the main program, such as spell check, the thesaurus, and the word count. The word count feature allowed me to get in-depth statistics about the contents of my writing and compare it against famous documents such as the Declaration of Independence. One option for comparison that I would consistently see as a match to my pre-adolescent skill was “Hemingway Short”. Not knowing what that meant, I did the only sensible thing anybody in my position would do when faced with life’s obstacles: consult my mommy! She explained to me that he was a writer who was famous for his short stories. In my five year-old mind all I could think was what a clever bastard this Hemingway must be, to write stories that are so short and yet be renowned enough to be a touchstone for other writers!

Had I actually picked up The Sun Also Rises when I was a child, I probably would have had my mind blown wide open at the fact that Hemingway’s “short story” was 251 goddamn pages long! I mean, that was a number that I could only measure in Pokèmon! I probably would have thrown an age appropriate shit-fit, branded my mother a liar, and questioned if anything else I held as true by her word was really a lie.

Thankfully a lot has changed since those days, and I have since expanded my mind. 251 pages is short for a novel. Hell, my favorite books are The Great Gatsby, The Wasp Factory, The Catcher In The Rye, and On The Road, so 251 is par for the course whereas a book that long with no pictures would be tedious for a five year-old. Hemingway’s also to the point with his writing, forgoing elaborate sentences and more or less making observations separated by periods. Some people say that this characteristic of his work is a bit childish and difficult to read. I think the easy-to-read nature of his novels would have made them more accessible to me as a kid, but even as an adult I can appreciate the observations he makes in this style. Hemingway’s style may put some people off, but it’s intriguing how he can describe scenes in a vivid fashion with such simple and even primitive sentences. It is that youthful naïvity of his pen that makes Hemingway’s style unique, seeing everything in his work as plainly and clearly as a child would.

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One Response to “An Earnest Dissection of Hemingway”

  1.   beverly gross Says:

    nice blog

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