I started reading a collection of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories just a little while ago. In the foreword Mr. Hemingway talks about the stories he wrote and mentions that one of his favorites was ‘The Light of the World’, “a story that nobody else ever liked”.
My first thought? I want to read this story. I bet I’ll even like it!
Where did that thought come from? Did I want to be the one other person who likes that story? The one who breaks from the pack? The one’s who’s different?
Or did I see Hemingway’s statement as a challenge? Almost as if the famous writer was taunting me: “Well … I liked it. I saw something in it that no one else did. I’m that smart. I’m that special. Are you?”
Hmmm … I don’t know. It was probably a bit of both. A look-at-me-I’m-different attitude and a yes-Mr.-super-smart-and-super-talented writer, I am as special as you are.
So, vain person that I am, I read ‘The Light of the World’.
- As a writer, I like his style. I’m impressed with how well Hemingway uses simple words to paint the clearest pictures. I feel I know exactly what he’s talking about. I like his writing very much: uncluttered, clear, unpretentious. It has a Goldilocks quality to it: not too much, not too little, just right!
- As a reader? Hmmm, how should I put this nicely? The story sucks!!! OK, that wasn’t nicely. Was it funny though? Probably not.
On a serious, nice-ish note, ‘The Light of the World’ wasn’t terrible. But no, it doesn’t make my list of favorite Hemingway stories. Maybe one day I’ll be able to better appreciate a story about grumpy bartenders, glass covered bowls of stinky pickled pig’s feet, cooks who put lemon juice on their hands, extra large prostitutes arguing over murdered fighters, and teenage “punks” who leave bars and go to train stations for no apparent reason.
Until then, I’ll just say that this is a well-written but uninteresting story. Which is not too bad, when you think about it. It could have been a poorly written crappy story instead. Like the ones I’ve written so far.
P.S. Ernest Hemingway was really good looking. What does that have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing. But it’s true!