Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blame Hemingway

We had to read Hemingway in my high school English class–as I am sure most everyone did. I didn’t enjoy my American literature class. I have always loved reading, but my typical feeling while reading American lit was there was a lot of build up and unsatisfying endings. My favorite American writer we had to read in high school was Poe. With him I didn’t care if his character’s died I was marveling at the genius in which he wove his incredibly thought out tales of murder (I’m still a fan). Now, I specified American because I adored everything I read in my British lit class, I’m not going to talk about British lit today, but I just wanted that out there. It is and always will be my favorite.

I now have that the horrible habit of reading the ending of a story first. Whether or not I picked this up from an entire year of heartbreaking American literature or somewhere else I cannot be certain, but I like to blame Hemingway. Maybe it is unfair. As I am growing older I am, perhaps, seeing the error of my ways. Poor Hemingway probably doesn’t deserve my blame and in all honestly I feel like I should revisit his work as an adult.

Will I stop reading the last chapter first, no. Absolutely not. I am what is called an emotionally vested reader. I can watch a thousand sad movies and never shed a tear. The first chapter of Harry Potter makes me cry. Lord of the Rings made me cry no fewer than four time and one of those times was from happiness?!!? The emotions of the characters I read take over my own, when the book is done if there is a sad ending I am devastated for weeks. It isn’t worth it for me to read a book without bracing myself for the ending.

So I will continue to read the last chapter first, but I have decided to give Hemingway another shot. Since I have started my own writing I find his quotes the most honest, inspiring, and funny. I sort of feel like we could have hung out, had a drink or twelve, been buddies. Of course in this dream evening of intoxication, bars, and writing talk I want Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Wilde there too.

So readers if you could hang out with any writers dead or alive who would you want to hang with?

I leave you with a quote from my soon to be new buddy “Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up” Hemingway

Photo by Kim


C.G. Powell said...

I love your post...Haha, can you imagine doing shots with Hemingway or Twain.

Unknown said...

Oscar Wilde, fo sho.

Scott Gordon said...

Please, please, please, don't read the last chapter of my book first. It will really ruin the surprise. There is a twist, a big one, and it's worth enduring the story to reach it.

Nichole Chase said...

I have found so many soul sisters in our writing group! LOL! I am a last chapter peeker too. If I am going to escape into a book, then I darn well want a happy ending! Or atleast feel satisfied with the ending.

As for what author I would want to sit down with? Hm. Jane Austen would be on the list. I'd like to think she would be pretty spunky.

Elizabeth Sharp said...

Good post, though on this one we are opposite. I'm the person who complains about movie trailers because they give too much away. I don't read titles and descriptions for tv show episodes because I don't want to know. Half of what keeps me interested is the not knowing.

And if I could sit down with any author, it would be Robert Jordan. I would love to know hat he was like based on the characters he created. They say there's a little of every author in their work and I believe it's true. So I would love to know what part of him is in there.

Anthony Hodgson said...

Good post. I loved English literature at school although I never got Shakespeare to be fair. George Bernard shaw would be mine as I love his books. Modern day it would be jk Rowling to find out how she got the idea for Harry potter.

D.M. Mitchell said...

This will be a long post - just warning you in advance... so sorry(I have no life).

You ask, and it's so funny that my answer coincides with your topic. I would want to hang out with Ernest Hemingway... I know,I know, how drab. When I get down to the bare bones of it all, his style is something I would like to emulate. He writes with simplicity,tells a tale but leaves enough to be imagined.

Honestly, I absolutely hated him in High School. Back then, all I wanted to read was beautiful flowing poetry.(I am a huge Poe fan myself)

I gave Hemingway a chance one day,when there was nothing else to read- and now I'm hooked. I've read "The Sun Also Rises" about 20-something times, and each time I realize something I didn't the first. (It's one of my favorites). The theme alone speaks about the greater questions of humanity (What about tomorrow,what about the future,will it always be the same?)And that's just one of the thoughts he'll have you thinking about.

I've always fancied myself a creative writer versus a "serious" writer. Now that I am in Journalism School trying to broaden my conceptual scope about writing, Hemingway's style becomes idealistic.

I suggest you read about what Hemingway had to say about writing before reading his novels.The lessons there give far greater insight into why he wrote the way he did. Hemingway is a very hard read for so many people - you are not alone!

Joanna Young "The Confident Writing Coach" wrote a blog about Hemingway's lessons - which inspired me to elaborate on the 27 lessons + that I have learned from him (and other writers...currently a work in progress).

Check out what she wrote on her blog and tell me what you think:

If anything, I think that every writer has something to tell us. YOU are a writer because YOU have something to say.

Play detective - try and figure out what any writer has to say (it can be an adventure into finding your voice as a writer- even if you think you already know it).

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