Patrick Cowsill's Reviews > In Our Time

In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
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Dec 20, 09

Read in January, 1994

Lawrence reviewed this book of short stories: "It's like smoking a cigarette, a short fast rush. Then you want another." I'm not a smoker, but I get what he's talking about. This is, in my opinion, Hemingway's best writing. The stories, about Nick Anderson, weave together to create a bigger narrative. Many later short story writers followed the pattern. In a way, Hemingway was following Shakespeare, who created a similar effect in his sonnets. You have to read many before a bigger story emerges.

I like how some of the stories start out with WWI. The pounding of the guns. The smoke and people dying (I don't like this, but the contrast that follows is felt by the reader.) The stories then fast forward to Nick in Michigan, fishing and trying to get his mind back. Some go back to when he was a boy, still fishing, or following his father to the Indian camp, where he learns life is kind of tough. In the Indian Camp, he watches his father, a doctor, brutalize a pregnant woman before delivering her child. She's on the bottom bunk, screaming. Nick's dad isn't using medicine, just a knife and such tools. On the top bunk, Nick notices her husband has committed suicide. "Why he do that, dad?"

"I don't know, son. I guess some people just don't want to face it". Then they take off across the lake at night, and Nick thinks to himself: "I will live forever".

In another story, quite understated, Nick takes his girlfriend fishing. It's a story about hooking bait and fishing. The writer describes the picnic location on the banks of a river. Then he dumps his girlfriend, giving just this explanation: "I don't know why," he tells her, "it's like things are going to hell inside me." Then the story is finished.
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