the importance of
being ernest.

late last year i felt the sudden urge to read hemingway again.

he has always been my favorite writer, which is somewhat odd, because none of his books are on my list of favorite books. i have issues with some of his subject matter, issues with his treatment of women, issues with his views on love.

still, i adore the way he writes, his ability to condense entire stories into one paragraph, to make me not only see it, but feel it, to make everything he wrote seem like it was not fiction, but an autobiographical account of his life.

in fact, some people think that is the case. he has said it was not, and i believe him. but that is why i think he is such a great writer, i never feel like i am reading a story, i am immersed in a tale, a recounting, a snapshot of someone’s life. he knew how to make it seem real.

so i gathered all his books together and waited until the week after christmas to begin. and now here i am, wading my way through his body of work, in chronological order. and all i want to do is read.

in the past week i have been to spain and italy, france and michigan, to horse races and bull fights. i’ve gone fishing and to war. i haven’t yet been to africa, that will come later, and i will fall in love with that place all over again.

i will love the heat and the dust and the wine and even the machismo. when i was young, i hated that part. i won’t love the scenes with the animals, that has always been the hardest for me.

but i can read him now with one eye on the story, and one eye on the craft. i can appreciate the gift he left to the world, flawed as he may have been as a person.

i can appreciate the magic of a phrase like true at first light.

or a story that draws me in and won’t let me go until the last page has been turned, and even then, leaves me wishing for more.

a story that can transport me to another time and another place, even as i sit in a noisy room filled with people.

a story that is written so well that not one word could be altered or removed without compromising its integrity.

the kind of stories that have always made me want to read.

what more can you ask of a writer?

18 Responses to “the importance of
being ernest.”

  • Liz Says:

    You’re making me remember how much I loved reading him too. I read your words about being transported & being written so well & think, “wow, that’s how I’d describe Kelly’s writing”

  • Debi Says:

    hemingway has always been hard for me, i haven’t even tried for years, but your love affair with his words is something i cannot ignore. i hear there is a quirky wonderful bookstore in florida, where i head this weekend. i will look for ernest.

  • Sally G. Says:

    You make a very persuasive case for me to read Hemingway too. I read “The Old Man and the Sea” while in high school, but have not read any of his art since.

    Which of his books would you recommend as a starting point for someone interested in getting to know this man and his craft?

    And how many of his books are you working your way through? He’s left quite a legacy in his wake.

  • Skye Says:

    What a wonderful way to transition from one year to another! I didn’t realize you were chronologically reading all of his works. What a perfect way to celebrate the craft of a writer & witness the evolution of his/her craft!
    Good on ya, Kelly!

  • amy oscar Says:

    I had completely forgotten about Hemingway until now – immersed as I’ve been in more contemporary writers, in women writers. I’m gonna try again. Like Sally, I read “The Old Man and the Sea” in high school. I tried to read another or two… got distracted. But I’m intrigued. Here’s the power of writing – and blogging – in community. Just because you love him so, I’m giving the old man another chance. 🙂 Loved this post, btw.

  • Abigail Says:

    I got really depressed after reading him as a sophomore in college. I was reading Sylvia Plath, who made me feel like everything in my life was absurd, and I didn’t even have talent to show for it. Then Hemingway made me feel like everyone was isolated, and no men really even enjoyed spending time with their women. Finally I admitted this, crying, to my sister and she told me to lighten up. Read some nonfiction. I did. And now that I’m in a better place, I’d love to tackle Hemingway’s spare prose, taking what I want to take from it.

  • Michael Rusk Says:

    What a fabulous way to review an author. I trust you explicitly and your emotions are so honest I can’t help but love him, too. I must read him now.

  • Cristina Says:

    He has always been a troubled soul to me, but his words seemed to soothe it. Enjoy.

  • Amy Says:

    That is exactly how I feel about Patricia McKillip.

  • Kate Says:

    I am so glad I saved your blog for dessert tonight. What a beautiful read.

  • Noel Says:

    Isn’t it funny how your mind will crave certain things, like your belly will crave a big juicy steak or your mouth will crave lemonade in the summertime? Enjoy the buffet! 🙂

    Big Two-Hearted River always stands out in memory for me.

  • kamana Says:

    i have to say i have never been a big fan of his, but having read two posts from you about your favourite writer, i have to say, i am feeling the need ot go back to him, try and see him the way you do.

  • eliza deacon Says:

    i look forward to when you do ‘come to africa’ and rediscover it all over again 🙂

  • beth Says:

    i have never read him before…..but now i’m intrigued !
    hmmm….when i get home, i think the used book store will call my name.

  • Jillsy Says:

    I have never really been a reader because I can’t seem to make myself pick up the book to begin with, I’ll find a hundred other things to do instead. BUT, if I actually do pick up a book and the first page grabs me, then I have a very difficult time putting it back down, for the same reasons you wrote of.

  • Krista Says:

    I’m sad to say I have never read any of Hemingway’s work, but this is inspiring me to do so!

  • Nana Says:

    I saw a show on the T.V. about him recently, he really was a very sad man but a facinating man also.

  • wholly jeanne Says:

    what more could you ask of a writer? exactly. we went to his place in the keys a few years ago. saw his 6-toed cats. would’ve thought of you had i known you then.

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