Daniel Williams

Posts Tagged ‘ernest hemingway’

‘Men Without Women’ (1927) Ernest Hemingway

In American, Essay, Literature, Writing on 09/01/2012 at 18:30

This short story collection contains two short stories that are not just my favourite Hemingway stories but two of my favourite short stories by anybody. So, this look at Men Without Women (1927) will be less of review, more in praise of Ernest Hemingway’s style and its effect on my own writing.

If you don’t know Hemingway’s style then this, his second collection of short stories, is an excellent place to start. There is a tonne of critical work and essays about Hemingway’s style that’s much more educated than this. To me, Hemingway’s style is short sentences, simple words, repetitive dialogue, and packing a hell of a punch. For me, the pinnacle of this is the story ‘Hills Like White Elephants’. I try to reread that story every couple of months just to remind me of how much I admire it.

I can remember first reading ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ some years ago for my Creative Writing class. On first reading I thought, ‘Huh?’ Then got what the story was about. I reread and it and that was it. It all fell into place. All the tension and action is under the surface and in the subtext. It’s a story about an abortion but the word ‘abortion’ is never mentioned once. That has had a great impact on me. One of the few rules I try and write by is to decide what the story is about and then try not to mention in the story. I hope that if I write well enough it should be apparent. I think I’ve achieved this twice, maybe three times. Still, I keep trying.

There are stories in the collection I think don’t quite hit the mark. I didn’t really get ‘Che Ti Dice La Patria?’ which I think realises too heavily on knowledge on the politics of Italy in the period before World War 2. That may just be me, though.

The best praise I can give the book is that as soon as I finished it I started Hemingway’s next collection of stories, Winner Take Nothing (1933). I preferred Men With Women, but Winner Take Nothing had some brilliant stories- ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ and ‘Fathers and Sons’. My copy of Hemingway’s The First Forty-Nine Stories (1938) is one of most treasured books. It was a Christmas present from a great friend and contains the majority of Hemingway’s published stories. Hemingway at his best is a great read.

Like so many others, Ernest Hemingway has been a big influence on my own writing. But the trick is to not to imitate him. Nobody can write like him. I just try to learn what I can about his techniques and apply them to my own stories. I can only hope I am successful without been derivative.

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Favourite Reads of 2011

In American, English, Japanese, Literature, Miscellaneous, Russian on 26/12/2011 at 14:11

Presented- a list of the books I most enjoyed this past year. Circumstances gave me a chance to read more than ever this year. My selection is personal opinion and includes novels, short story collections and non-fiction.

Ray Bradbury- Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962)

Fyodor Dostoyevsky- The Brothers Karamazov (1880)

Bob Dylan- Chronicles, Volume One (2004)

Jennifer Egan- A Visit From the Goon Squad (2010)

F. Scott Fitzgerald- The Beautiful and Damned (1922); The Great Gatsby (1925); This Side of Paradise (1920)

Ernest Hemingway- In Our Time (1925)

Carson McCullers- The Heart is a Lonley Hunter (1940)

Yukio Mishima- Death in Midsummer and other stories (1966); Thirst For Love (1950); The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea (1963); Spring Snow (1966)

J.D. Salinger- Franny & Zooey (1961)

John Updike- Your Lover Just Called (1980)

Kurt Vonnegut- Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

Steve Waters- The Secret Life of Plays (2010)

Richard Yates- A Special Providence (1969); The Easter Parade (1976); Young Hearts Crying (1984)

Summer Reading Challenge

In American, Indian, Literature, Miscellaneous on 04/09/2011 at 17:15

In my borough (and in other parts of the country) the libraries are having a summer reading challenge for children. For the challenge they have to read six books over the summer. For doing so they get stickers, bookmarks, a medal and a certificate. I decided to try and read six books myself, despite not receiving any stickers, medals or certificate. But I did take a couple of bookmarks for my troubles. My six books:

1)      Knight’s Gambit (1949)- William Faulkner: I can’t say I really enjoyed this book. I’m not a fan of Faulkner’s prose style, I find it unnecessarily difficult, though I’m sure many a scholar could tell me why I am wrong about this. I wanted to read this book because I’d heard they were Faulkner’s only attempt at crime stories.

2)      A Special Providence (1969)- Richard Yates: The story is about an 18 year-old dreaming of success in World War 2, with the middle chunk of the novel about his mother and his upbringing. I’m a big fan of Richard Yates and thoroughly enjoyed this book. Possibly the best book out of the six.

3)      The Long Fall (2009)- Walter Mosley: I wanted to read a crime novel as a break from the heavier stuff. I’ve read one of Mosley’s books before and I preferred that story. This didn’t really engage me like Blonde Faith (2007).

4)      The Painter of Signs (1976)- R.K. Narayan: A charming and funny little story about the relationship between a sign painter and a young woman devoted to the promotion of family planning. It was quite sweet in places.

5)      A Visit From the Goon Squad (2010)- Jennifer Egan: I did write a review of the book on here, but to summarise- it’s great.

6)      Across the River and Into the Trees (1950)- Ernest Hemingway: This was the sixth novel by Hemingway I’ve read, and it’s my least favourite. I didn’t really think much of the quite thin story, and the character of Renata only existed to be in love with the hero. This was quite a disappointment because I am a fan of Hemingway.

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