Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25th: Ernest Hemingway
A Month of Short Stories and Their Authors

now reading: too many to list. various projects in progress. 

A giant of American Literature today. (By the way, for those who don't know me, "American" is not synonymous with "from the United States." But this guy is, still, a giant of American literature. And he had the good sense to live in a few other places besides the U.S., so there's that.)

Today's Story: "The Killers"
Author: Ernest Hemingway
My Rating: B

I tend to like the idea of Hemingway more than I enjoy the actual act of reading his work. Tend to.

I am pretty sure that I read "The Killers" in one of my American Lit classes at USC. I didn't realize it until partway through reading it today. In that class, our Hemingway book was the collected Nick Adams stories, I believe. I forget the exact title. I wish I had all my college syllabuses and notebooks and stuff here with me. Gotta work on that.

If you had asked me thirty minutes ago which Nick Adams stories we read in that class, I'd have had no idea, but now I'm sure this is one of them. Don't ask me what the others were (no idea!) but one had some part about sneaking up some hills at night in the moonlight. After that semester, I went to Cuba for the summer (really!) and read The Old Man and the Sea there. I think. I definitely owned the book there and my journal says I was reading it. I also saw the movie The Old Man and the Sea there. Sometimes I can't remember actually finishing that book, but it was so short, so why wouldn't I have finished it? Later, in my twenties, I read For Whom the Bell Tolls. (Spoiler: thee.) What I remember about that book is that it took a long time to finish. Nonetheless, I miss my twenties. I miss the massive pleasure of a)reading whatever I wanted and no longer reading assigned things b)feeling like I had enough lifetime ahead to read everything on the life to-read list. Those two dovetail during your twenties. Take advantage, twentysomethings!

Back to "The Killers." What's the point?

Waiting. The clock ticks. Still waiting.

Ahhhhh, no point. Got it. Slices of life. Humanity. Consider yourself. What would you do if you were Ole Andreson? What would you have done if you were Nick--would you have been afraid to go warn him? What if you were George? Sam?  OK, OK, it's all very interesting. But I can't quite say I love the story or its non-ending.

Any bets on which year, as I make my way chronologically through The Best American Short Stories of the Century, will be the last with a story using the n-word to describe a black person? We're up to 1927 now, and here was Hemingway using it. (Yes, yes, in dialogue, in the mouth of the diner guy as well as a couple of sleazeballs who walk in. But still.)

I should really get around to reading A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises. For someone who tends to like the idea of Hemingway so much, I haven't really read enough of his stuff. I have, however, visited his home in Cuba and the bars there where he used to hang out and the Old Man's fishing village on the Sea. So I am ahead of some United States-ians in that way.

But I haven't been to Key West! Ahhhh, the trade-offs of life. "It's a hell of a thing," as George a million different Hemingway characters would say.

I respect the hell out of my boy Ernest, but on the pure enjoyment factor this story is B material.

By the way! This is day 25 of July, and I've now read 24 short stories (I granted myself a holiday on the 4th), so I'm on my way to completing a total of 30 for July, my month of short stories. Will I make my goal? Want to put some money on it --for a good cause? Well, this month I also happen to be raising money for my upcoming Habitat for Humanity build in Poznan, Poland. How about a little donation--say, 50 cents per story read and blogged about?
You can click here to visit my Habitat fundraising page or find out more about my trip.

Coming up at the end of the month, we'll take a look back at the authors and stories and do a little ranking and review!

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