Ben's Reviews > The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway
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Aug 16, 2011

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bookshelves: american-lit, short-stories
Read from May 12 to August 16, 2011

Have you ever been so excited to finish a book that you actually procrastinate in finishing it because you know that would mean the end of that excited feeling?

I'm FINALLY finished with this one!

Not that it was bad. But certain stories lacked...well, EVERYTHING!

"The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" were amazing. Ther were others that were very impressive. But for the most part, the stories were excessively chopped, lacked depth, plot and rising tension, climax or falling action. Stylistically, every story seemed to begin as if I already knew the people, what was happening and why I should care. They didn't seem edited. Proofread, sure. But they read as if they were off the tip of his brain and lacked any kind of craftsmanship.

I will admit that Hemingway was undoubtedly an experienced man. These stories reveal that. And his perspective, what he saw and sensed, offered a unique view into the world. He really shined in certain instances but generally his method faded dull.

If you adventure into the world of Hemingway's short stories, don't read through a collection like you would a novel. You will inevitably make a hole in your wall with your head.
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Reading Progress

05/12/2011 page 29
4.0% ""The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" - Flawless. I think that's the word, with all the external and internal destruction of generic masculinity and the effectual relations of all those things." 2 comments
05/12/2011 page 39
6.0% ""The Capital of the World" - The attraction of the capital is culture and occupation, borders drawn through the unified experience of man. And many are unfortunate enough to pass without the pleasure, or pain, of disillusionment."
05/12/2011 page 57
9.0% ""The Snows of Kilimanjaro" - Wow...I got nothin'. Read this one, folks."
05/12/2011 page 59
9.0% ""Old Man at the Bridge" - Sad...but at least someone noticed."
05/12/2011 page 63
10.0% ""Up In Michigan" - A very clear and simple rendition of, not losing innocence, but perhaps imagining one thing and getting another. Maybe Hemingway considered writing grocery-store romance novels before deciding to be a definitive American literary figure."
05/12/2011 page 67
10.0% ""On the Quai at Smyrna" - ?!?!?!? That may have been the most nonchalant rendering of horrible circumstances I've read. And it wasn't satirical! It was absolutely serious!"
05/12/2011 page 73
11.0% ""Indian Camp" - 'But her screams are not important. I don't hear them because they're not important.' A fairly simple story about a birth, and it struck me. That's the success of Hemingway's style. It's not enough to be detailed, it's having the wisdom to know which details lend well to the theme. That is the secret to his gutted style."
05/12/2011 page 79
12.0% ""The Doctor and The Doctor's Wife" - Two spineless antagonists to the doctor: his wife and the man who picked a fight to get out of a job for the doctor. His wife because she's a Christian Scientist married to a practitioner of western medicine. Or maybe that's just my take."
05/12/2011 page 85
13.0% ""The End of Something" - Ending a relationship is like voiding a town of its economic livelihood. And I wonder if Hemingway is stringing these stories together; interweaving characters into events in a seemingly disjointed movie. Like "Pulp Fiction"."
05/13/2011 page 97
15.0% ""The Three-Day Blow" - I had the feeling there was a big, neglected elephant in the room. And it turned out it was the nothingness."
05/13/2011 page 107
16.0% ""The Battler" - Really liked this one. The characters, the foreshadowing, the futility, the destruction. Of being a "man"."
05/13/2011 page 111
17.0% ""A Very Short Story" - With hints from A Farewell To Arms, this one makes me wonder if there are any people of integrity in Hemingway's world..."
05/13/2011 page 119
18.0% ""Soldier's Home" - If you know someone coming home from the conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan, it might not be a bad idea to familiarize yourself with this story."
05/13/2011 page 123
19.0% ""The Revolutionist" - Such futile optimism, hope. It seems to be a theme. I don't think Hemingway is discouraging it, just noting it, of course."
05/13/2011 page 127
20.0% ""Mr. And Mrs. Elliot" - T.S.? Hemingway seemed critical of their planned and prepared "happiness"."
05/13/2011 page 133
20.0% ""Cat in the Rain" - Is a cat really going to solve the problem? I hope rain doesn't symbolize what Hemingway usually uses it for..."
05/13/2011 page 133
20.0% ""Cat in the Rain" - Is a cat really going to solve the problem? I hope rain doesn't symbolize what Hemingway usually uses it for..."
05/13/2011 page 141
22.0% ""Out of Season" - Well, they can't all be tens, Hemingway."
05/13/2011 page 149
23.0% ""Cross-Country Snow" - The tone of Nick's stories just seem rough. And I think we might have more character intermixing."
05/13/2011 page 161
25.0% ""My Old Man" - Should have had quotation marks at each end of the story. This is the Hemingway I DON'T like. I credit him with being able to write as if another person, but I don't like reading it."
05/15/2011 page 181
28.0% ""Big Two-Hearted River: Parts 1&2" - Solitary...calming...unity"
05/16/2011 page 206
32.0% ""The Undefeated" - A great bullfighting account stylistically like Old Man and The Sea. Ironic in sport, but insightful as to the suffering of those pitted against each other."
05/19/2011 page 211
32.0% ""In Another Country" - Thematically, this supplements well with A Farewell To Arms"; wrestling with ideas of losing parts of oneself to war and how to avoid doing so."
05/19/2011 page 215
33.0% ""Hills Like White Elephants" - I have no idea what this couple were talking about. All I know is that they had lost something in their relationship and wanted it back. I think Hemingway is wise enough, as a writer, to portray only what is important, which is their crippled relationship. The circumstances of why don't change anything."
05/19/2011 page 223
34.0% ""The Killers" - Entertaining. Must have been fun to write. Nick Adams appears again as a secondary, though important, character. The narrative speaks of him as if he's never been seen before. Clever."
05/19/2011 page 231
36.0% ""Che Ti Dice La Patria?" - I wish I knew the title's translation. Regarding my thoughts on the story, the final sarcasm sums it up: "Naturally, in such a short trip, we had no opportunity to see how things were with the country or the people.""
05/20/2011 page 250
38.0% ""Fifty Grand" - I like to see someone who judges himself accurately, even as weak, but resolve to summon the wits to maintain dignity and come out ahead."
05/25/2011 page 253
39.0% ""A Simple Enquiry" - No aspect of humanity, no matter how simple, remains untainted by the operation and organization of war."
05/25/2011 page 258
40.0% ""Ten Indians" - Despite how she cast Nick away, I can't hate her. She lives among people who cast her people out, misunderstand the reasons of their degenerate behavior, and it seems her choices are a result of keeping that society. Even Nick denounced her...how can one hate someone who behaves similarly to them?"
05/25/2011 page 262
40.0% ""A Canary for One" - Ha! Saw that comin'...what people won't do to entertain their baseless prejudices."
05/25/2011 page 267
41.0% ""An Alpine Idyll" - An ironic, though not precisely false, title..."
05/25/2011 page 271
42.0% ""A Pursuit Race" - And to think I've taken sheets for granted all this time :)"
05/25/2011 page 274
42.0% ""Today Is Friday" - I like this; not for any particular insights, but because its a natural episode affiliated with a supernatural story."
05/25/2011 page 276
42.0% ""Banal Story" - The title notwithstanding, this story sings the anthem of Hemingway haters. But thinking critically about what is unsaid as much as what is said is the key to a complete understanding of life."
05/25/2011 page 276
42.0% ""Banal Story" - The title notwithstanding, this story sings the anthem of Hemingway haters. But thinking critically about what is unsaid as much as what is said is the key to a complete understanding of life."
05/25/2011 page 283
44.0% ""As I Lay Me" - A frame of mind I hope never to sympathize with."
05/28/2011 page 288
44.0% ""After The Storm" - I liked this one; set similarly as Old Man and The Sea and full of moderate action. Thematically, this story depicts man's futile efforts to master and profit by the sea."
05/28/2011 page 292
45.0% ""A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" - Well done, Hem! These stylistically clean stories of Spain illuminate Hemingway's instinctual insights - the ignorance of youth and the sorrow of old age. Symbolism would add nothing valuable to this account."
05/28/2011 page 298
46.0% ""The Light of The World" - Rather than contrasting youth and old age, I think this one glorified experience over punk innocence, even if it means valuing an experience which might be no more than a manipulated memory."
05/28/2011 page 302
46.0% ""God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" - A doctor derives all his knowledge and skill from a book shares qualities with a boy who desperately desires castration because lust defies purity. Go figure."
05/28/2011 page 306
47.0% ""The Sea Change" - Similar to "Hills Like White Elephants". I won't repeat myself."
05/28/2011 page 316
49.0% ""A Way You'll Never Be" - That was odd. Is Nick losing his mind a little?"
05/28/2011 page 320
49.0% ""The Mother of A Queen" - I waited for a redeeming quality in the queen but Hem neglected me :("
05/28/2011 page 322
50.0% ""One Reader Writes" - Is this the type of woman who calls 911 for burnt toast? In all seriousness, I understand innocent ignorance which morphs the simplest inconveniences into devastating calamities."
05/28/2011 page 332
51.0% ""Homage To Switzerland" - Only Hemingway would split a 10-page story into parts. Of course, the split serves his literary device. Each traveler differs from the other, but the Swiss hospitality and environment remain routinely constant."
05/28/2011 page 335
52.0% ""A Day's Wait" - Well, if you can't reasonably think solely of dying anymore, you might as well start worrying about the circumstances of living."
05/28/2011 page 342
53.0% ""A Natural History of the Dead" - Hemingway assumes the guise of a natural scientist studying the dead in war rather than life outside of it, which normally occupies his profession. His style completely shifts to the anti-Hemingway; verbose, relatively long-winded, etc. until it breaks off a little at the end into dialogue. I feel uneasy knowing I found it a bit satirical."
05/28/2011 page 355
55.0% ""Wine of Wyoming" - My head aches from all the interlaced French. Broken or not, it disrupted the dialogue for me."
05/28/2011 page 369
57.0% ""The Gambler, The Nun, and The Radio" - Fascinating..."
05/28/2011 page 369
57.0% ""The Gambler, The Nun, and The Radio" - Fascinating...Revolution and knowledge are the only things not classified as opium for the masses. Everything before and after is. Shouldn't patients be allowed their anesthetic? (paraphrasing)"
05/28/2011 page 381
59.0% ""Fathers and Sons" - Sensational, clinging scents and acute sight, and sensitive, generations of fathers and sons stringing together like one man. Nick Adams IS Hemingway."
06/09/2011 page 410
63.0% ""One Trip Across" - Now that's understatement..."
06/13/2011 page 420
65.0% ""The Tradesman's Return" - These Cuba stories are like action thrillers. But they're not written that way..."
06/13/2011 page 429
66.0% ""The Denunciation" - Sad. Ideology has a knack for destroying the truly blissful things in life. So much so, that we'll try and maintain an illusion of that old bliss while consciencely destroying it."
06/19/2011 page 437
67.0% ""The Butterfly and the Tank" - The title says it all; what happens when lighthearted fun collides with the seriousness and violence of war. War wins; vacuums anything good and grows."
06/19/2011 page 460
71.0% ""Night Before Battle" - A soldier's view of the war, like a line-level employee criticizing management or engaging in recreational activities between a "ClOpen" shift set. A curing night. I find the evolution of war machines, spurred by uses rather than direct development, wildly intriguing. How many PEOPLE appear different because of their use rather than their nature?"
06/19/2011 page 470
72.0% ""Under The Ridge" - War police? Foreign aid disorder? Natural fears and compensatory honor? Chaos. On one side."
07/13/2011 page 482
74.0% ""Nobody Ever Dies" - Just when I began to find this book tedious, Hemingway exhibits a flash of brilliance. This story challenges our threshold for ideology and presents a higher truth which allows us to cope with its costs."
07/13/2011 page 485
75.0% ""The Good Lion" - An interesting fable with a distinct Hemingway touch."
07/13/2011 page 487
75.0% ""The Faithful Bull" - The irony of instinct..."
07/13/2011 page 492
76.0% ""Get A Seeing-Eyed Dog" - On several occasions, Hemingway presented men in awkwardly vulnerable situations but he paints the woman as the victim."
07/14/2011 page 496
76.0% ""A Man of The World" - Sympathy both withheld and unwelcome. The world produces both flaws and blessings and because of this men can always find common ground."
07/14/2011 page 504
78.0% ""Summer People" - Rhythmic. The bliss of youthful summer with an odd hint of tension and uncertainty."
07/25/2011 page 545
84.0% ""The Last Good Country" - A great story, my favorite of the Nick Adams pieces thus far. Kinda pissed Hemingway didn't finish it."
08/08/2011 page 557
86.0% ""An African Story" - Stewardship differs from usary and dominance and does not isolate us above nature."
08/14/2011 page 571
88.0% ""A Train Trip" - A nice little thriller bogged down by distracting run-ons and sprinkled with a dash of ethical hypocrisy."
08/15/2011 page 579
89.0% ""The Porter" - A sudden but subtle use of symbolism...I wonder if rain is meant to symbolize death in all of Hemingway's works."
08/15/2011 page 590
91.0% ""Black Ass At The Crossroads" - This is NOT about what you would guess."
08/15/2011 page 597
92.0% ""Landscape With Figures" - Unless a person has fought in a battle, no television drama or nightly newsreel can affect us to its effects."
08/15/2011 page 602
93.0% ""I Guess Everything Reminds You Of Something" - Sad. The saddest yet...the story itself reeks of lost innocence; but not of a child."
08/15/2011 page 605
93.0% ""Great News From The Mainland" - Seriously, I don't know who deserves more of my sympathy. Tragic."
08/16/2011 page 650
100.0% ""The Strange Country" - Compact all the run-ons, the simple dialogue, the brilliant inner thought processes, the Gertrue Stein inspired ethereal expressions and you have a messy climax of Hemingway's skill as a short story writer."

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Allison (new)

Allison C. McCulloch When I was in France, I picked up a book of 3 of his stories in English with a side-by-side French translation. It was a pretty great experience.


message 2: by Ben (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ben Cool! I wish I could read Spanish fluently. I think reading some of his works in Spanish (For Whom The Bell Tolls in particular) would be enlightening!


Benoit Lelievre Not too sure how to answer you here. I like "Feast". Not too big on Paris, but the bitz on Ezra Pound are great. He sounded like such a cool guy. He kept the best for the end though (Fitzgerald)


message 4: by Ben (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ben Benoit wrote: "Not too sure how to answer you here. I like "Feast". Not too big on Paris, but the bitz on Ezra Pound are great. He sounded like such a cool guy. He kept the best for the end though (Fitzgerald)"

Absolutely! The stuff he did with Fitzgerald was great! And Fitz came off as kind of a clown. And Gertrude Stein? She's a character.


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