I’ve been reading Hemingway again, the short stories in particular. When I was a kid, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was one of my favorite novels. I must have read it three or four times before I finally moved on. I’m not sure why I stopped reading Hemingway. I read “A Farewell to Arms” but wasn’t as taken with it as I was with “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and that ended my interest. In high school, I read some sort of writing book in which he was cited. His advice was to cut down the sentence to nothing. I kind of wish I knew which textbook it was that we read. I distinctly remember it being in an AP Language and Literature class during my junior year, but I could be mistaken.
For some reason, his advice stayed with me. I suppose this was mostly because I had loved “For Whom the Bell Tolls” so much, and revered him for a time.
The story that stays with me now is “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” as well as “Hills Like White Elephants,” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” In each of these stories, there’s a wonderful sense of tension that is not necessarily resolved. I think Hemingway’s talent is letting the story end without making it end. So many modern stories have an ending instead of being open ended, which takes something away. You can’t often really say what Hemingway’s stories are about, which is what makes him so great to read.