Book review – Complete short stories of Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway — short stories — acknowledged master of the genre — Nobel prize winner. Let’s just say that he didn’t float the boat for most of us.

I guess we should have expected it and maybe the choice wasn’t great given the times we are living in, but so many of the stories are macho and violent – reflections of worlds we haven’t experienced – bullfighting, big game hunting, life as a soldier, racing and so on. His writing style is very simple – short staccato sentences and brief descriptions. He is credited with transforming the short story, but the subjects felt dated and so often a promising start headed quickly into violence and death. On the upside – he is incredibly good at hooking you in – the opening sentence leading you in to read more, and he also captures so well meandering conversations in which there is so much undercurrent not expressed.

None of us had read very many of the stories – most had skimmed through hoping to find something more uplifting, but we wondered whether, assuming the stories were presented in published order, the feel would change as you reached deeper into the collection.