Sunday, September 7, 2014

Papa Hemingway to the rescue

The great Hemingway short story BIG TWO-HEARTED RIVER can, thank God, be found here.

Or click the photo.

Click this photo to read Hemingway's masterpiece BIG TWO-HEARTED RIVER

Hemingway does something extraordinary in these pages, something extreme, something that's easy to miss, something that amounted to a major breakthrough in modern fiction, something difficult, something that most writers I come across either don't know how to do or have no particular interest in doing. I tried to do this thing in a scene in my novel JIHADI: A LOVE STORY. I couldn't do it all the way through, as Hemingway does it here. It may only be possible to do this particular thing in a short story. It's hard to imagine a novel doing it successfully, from beginning to end, at the level Hemingway does it here. Maybe there's a novel out there that does it that I just haven't come across. If you find one, drop me a line.

Papa (the word is full of eerie resonances for me) does something in this story that no one else, as near as I can make out, has done anywhere near as well, including Ernest Hemingway. In that way, the story is kind of like Arthur Miller's play DEATH OF A SALESMAN . It's true that Miller never wrote anything to top it, but it's equally true that no one else has done anything to top it.

The technical/aesthetic accomplishment I'm talking about -- which I'm not identifying directly here, because people who like surprises may wish to be surprised by it -- is described in this Wikipedia article. If you like spoilers, or you just have no patience, go ahead and click the second link first. That's fine.