The Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway
I couldn’t possibly come up with anything negative to say about Hemingway. He’s the master of the short story; he’s lovably cantankerous; he trusts that his readers “get him” without going out of his way to spell things out or wasting a single word; there isn’t a great writer from his heyday that he didn’t hate or punch. And he had such a great sense of place— he takes all of these little towns around Italy and Spain and Michigan and makes them his little towns. Sidenote: I’m acquainted with a girl from Key West who told me that the house he used to have down there is currently inhabited by the cats he left behind when he died, the only living things he didn’t hate or punch.
I’ve been sitting on this book for about four years, buying it from a huge church sale at a Catholic school in Towson during the era of my life when I was reading a lot of Hemingway and secretly thinking about how cool it would be to have a war wound, or a bull-fighting wound, or squaw syphilis, or the ennui of wartime romance. Somehow I resisted the urge to enlist, and what I glean from wikipedia is that the Spanish Civil War did alright without me. I didn’t get through it until now because it’s 49 stories in 500 pages, and what took me a couple sittings to read this month would have taken me half a year in 2006. I’m glad I got to it when I did— in high school, the Hemingway malaise is romantic. In adulthood, it’s relatable.