Re: RARA-AVIS: Writing is Greatly Overrated; It's the story that counts.

From: Patrick King (
Date: 27 Oct 2007

--- Jack Bludis <> wrote:

> Hemingway made us interested in a man in someone
> else's
> revolution in FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, but by then,
> I
> think, his writing style was stretched and he
> over-described. By THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA and A
> FEAST, he is parodying the style that made him
> famous,
> padding OLD MAN and telling not much of a story in
> ... Yes, OLD MAN is a great story, but 30,000 words
> worth?
> I don't think so.

I think you're being a little hard on Papa here. First, while I recognize that FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS takes great liberty with history and reality regarding the Spanish Civil War, the story is very compelling and the language is as good as an American writer can get. The use of events in Hemingway's own life which drove the writer just as they drove the revolutionary in the book, I thought were especially moving. THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA is a beautifully written exploration of what people will do to succeed at their profession. It probably owes a great deal to Steinbeck's THE PEARL, but nonetheless looks at the problem from a different angle. I think the writing is beautiful. And to your last point, A MOVABLE FEAST is not a story at all, it's a memoir of a man becoming a writer in a city where most of the people he knew were becoming writers or painters. It's a great portrait of people struggling to create; chooseing alies and dealing with professional jealousy, their own, and jealousy aimed at them. It is still probably my favorite of Hemingway's books because of its candor. I've read it four or five times as opposed to most of his other work which I've only read twice so far. Hemingway's novels are not perfect. Not all of them work. He was probably the most innovative short story writer of his era. The only one I can think of as innovative from a completely different direction is Jayne Loader.

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