Papa Hemingway

HemingwayI have always suggested that Ernest Hemingway wrote some excellent short stories but that his novels, excepting The Sun Also Rises, generally sucked. Recently I have been reading some of Hemingway’s early stories as collected in the volume In Our Time. It’s funny what you notice the second (or third or fourth) time you read a story, especially in this case after having read Clancy Carlile’s The Paris Pilgrims. The way publishers have handled Hemingway’s short stores makes it very easy to reread many of them since they are collected in so many different editions (luckily there is a Complete edition so you don’t have to worry about missing any).

Think back over all the Hemingway you have read and consider the male-female relations: love, romance, sex, disfunction.  What about male-male relationships and those prominent man-against-nature scenarios stalking animals in Africa or sport fishing off Key West? Hemingway was such a guy’s guy and did all that macho stuff (even buddying up to Castro) … was he over-compensating?

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A Second Note About Sindbad

I have recently read a collection of stories by the influential Hungarian author Gyula Krúdy called The Adventures of Sindbad (my earlier note). I definitely recommend reading this one but what struck me was a narrative technique the author uses that is quite effective and somewhat unusual:  he has Sindbad commit suicide fairly early in the collection and the dead but still charming boulevardier continually pops out of the grave when he gets bored and roam about visiting people and places that have been left to the changes wrought by time.

This narrative technique effectively highlights the changes that have gone on in Europe as it moves from a more gentile age into the dog and bone shop of modern society; it also leaves the reader with a bit of nostalgia for the more formal and slow-moving culture of an older, gentler Europe.

I found the stories very enjoyable and quite well written. Give them a try.

While writing this post I began thinking about other narratives that used a dead character’s observations. I know there’s a smarmy novel recently made into a movie where the murdered girl is the narrator, but I avoided reading the book and seeing the movie so I’m not able to elaborate. My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk started out with the murder of a man whose body is thrown into a well:  that’s a good example of a dead narrator. There are probably many others that don’t come to me right now:  anything to add? … Topper doesn’t count.