The Complete Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway

The Complete Short StoriesThe Complete Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Originally published June 17th, 2013
I should not have been surprised that a book of short stories by Ernest Hemingway had very few happy endings. It took me a while to get used to it though. Even when I thought the story was going to have a happy ending, Hemingway would throw a wrench at my head on the last page. Surprise! It’s depressing.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they weren’t awesome. Some of my personal favorites were “One Trip Across,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” “Wine of Wyoming,” Parts I and II of “Big Two-Hearted River,” “Fifty Grand,” and “Sea Change.” No particular reason for most of these favourites, they just appealed to me on some visceral level. But I’m getting the impression visceral appeal is what Hemingway excels at.
I’d heard as well that his stories are most incredible when you read them out loud, so I tried it with “Wine of Wyoming”. It did seem to make a difference, although there’s a fair bit of French mixed in with the English, so I had to do it where no one would hear me mangling the language. My apologies to France. If you don’t speak French and/or Spanish, you may wish to read this book with a translator handy. Most of the stories you’ll be fine, but there are one or two with enough exchanges in other tongues that you’ll miss the gist of the story if you don’t get it translated.
Hemingway wrote multiple short stories that featured the same character but were unconnected otherwise. In this book those stories are interspersed with completely unrelated ones, which I thought was a wise touch. If the ones with the same character had been grouped together, I would have gotten engrossed with the main character and been irritated when the “series” came to a close. This way it felt like short visits with an acquaintance. Overall I would say the book itself was well and thoughtfully laid out. And it ends perfectly.
One last thought: you know you haven’t read enough short stories when you can’t tell the difference between the finished ones, and the unfinished ones. There are some of each in this book, so you can sample as you please. I haven’t worked out how to tell them apart yet. What makes a story finished? Maybe that’s a question only Hemingway can answer.

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