In today’s Journal
* Quote of the Day
* I’ve dropped off “Hortencia Alvarez”
* Of Interest
Quote of the Day
“Just write one true sentence.” Ernest Hemingway
While I’m spending time away from the Hovel, I’m reading quite a lot. I recently read roughly half of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition. By keying the title into a search engine, you can find used copies for around $7 on up. A new paperback copy on Amazon is under $15. Extremely inexpensive for a masters class on writing.
I have this one as both an ebook and in trade paperback, the 1987 edition. To play the old game, if I were to be stranded on a desert island and could take only so many books with me, this would be my first choice. Raymond Chandler’s Collected Stories would probably be my second choice, and then The Stand by Stephen King.
How about you? Which books would you take? Leave a comment.
If you are a writer and if you haven’t read The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, I strongly recommend it. In fact, if you haven’t read it recently, I just as strongly recommend it.
As an aside, if you’re one who has trouble coming up with ideas, I super-strongly recommend it. I can’t read any of Hemingway’s fiction without being flooded with story starters.
My recent reading was probably my fourth or fifth time through the collection. On this particular occasion, I was searching for a two-word clause that I only vaguely remembered, but one that had struck me in its powerful simplicity. It was a brief bit of dialogue uttered from one character to another.
I couldn’t simply type the sentence for which I was searching into a search engine because I couldn’t remember it precisely. I only knew it was “Be who you are,” or “Just be yourself,” or some similar clause that means that same general thing.
Plus, in the story the sentence was issued as a terse directive, so not anything at all like the flood of feel-good affirmations that crop up if you key anything similar into a search engine.
And the sentence was delivered with a certain attitude dangling off it. And of course, even the most advanced search engines don’t do attitude or voice. Anyway, I’d never seen those particular words used to express that particular sentiment before, and that use is what intrigued me.
I did finally find the passage, after reading roughly half of “The First Forty-nine” stories in the book. It was in an otherwise unremarkable (for Hemingway) story titled “Fifty Grand.”
As it turned out, the sentence was “Be yourself.” Now imagine those two muttered words wrapped in an underlying threat and delivered by a hulking welterweight boxer in the center of a ring. The sentence was part of a longer dialogue, and the character used it twice in maybe a quarter-minute or so of story time, each time in response to something the other character said.
Hemingway’s use of that dramatic sentence in that bit of dialogue was even more plaintive and striking than Lee Child’s famous bit of transitory narrative: “Reacher said nothing.” But this isn’t a review. It’s an opportunity for learning.
Understand, it wasn’t the particular words that mattered. What mattered was the way the master used those sort of words in the context of the story. Truly next-level stuff. Having found the passage, I can (and will) study it off and on.
Frankly, I can hardly wait to get back to writing. In the meantime, I’m starting again on The Sun Also Rises.
As strange fate would have it, my buddy Dan sent me a copy of Michael Shaara’s For Love of the Game. (Thanks, Dan.) It arrived in the mail yesterday, and I retrieved it shortly after writing the above Journal entry for today.
Why is that odd? Because across the bottom of the front cover is a partial review from the Los Angeles Times. It reads, “If Hemingway had written a baseball novel, he might have written For Love of the Game.” The coincidence is too tempting. I reckon I’ll set aside The Sun Also Rises to read Shaara’s novel instead.
I’ve dropped off “Hortencia Alvarez” from the numbers below because I’m not sure how long it will run. I don’t want to risk interrupting WCG9SF4 to write what might become another novel.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Fear Thesaurus Entry: One’s Genetics” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/fear-thesaurus-entry-ones-genetics/. This article abounds with story starters.
See “(Comments on) Some AI Opinions” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/some-ai-opinions/#comments. The post has exploded with comments and Dean has yet to join in. I added a couple more, responding to others’ comments.
The Journal…………………………………… 750 words
Writing of Wes Crowley: Deputy US Marshal 2 (WCG9SF4)
Day 1…… 3231 words. Total words to date…… 3231
Day 2…… 2990 words. Total words to date…… 6221
Day 3…… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 8026
Day 4…… 2025 words. Total words to date…… 10051
Total fiction words for February……… 1089
Total fiction words for 2023………… 47962
Total nonfiction words for February… 16670
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 37020
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 84982
Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 72
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: Because It Makes Sense, I preach trusting your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living. Duh. See My Best Advice for Fiction Writers at https://hestanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/My-Best-Advice-for-Fiction-Writers.pdf.
6 thoughts on “Hemingway”
I would take with me to a desert island Murakami Haruki’s The wind-up bird Chronicle, or one of his other masterpiece, 1Q84. My second choice would be David Gemmell’s Jon Shannow trilogy. The third choice would be Clive Barker’s Weaveworld. Oh, I love all those books!
Actually, I read Hemingway’s first short stories in a collection I bought for 1 USD in a secondhand bookstore. In translation to Hungarian. I agree his works are great pleasure to read. I was surprised how simple words could create a whole world. At least that was the impression I had.
“… simple words could create a whole world”
That’s it exactly.
I would take all the books in my Shannara collection. I have thirteen so far and its my favorite series. Its one of the few series I can reread often and still love just as much as when I first started it.
I’d also take the six Star Wars novels I own. With them and Shannara I’d be all set…..until I went insane due to the isolation (I love my solitude and lone time but even I have my limits).
My choice? Hmm…let’s see…oh, of course: your short story Adobe Walls and the entirety of everything it spawned. 🙂
Wow. Thanks, Russ.
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