The Hemingway Problem

Why every writer should read Hemingway.

It’s all about the bacon fat.

“I’ve worried about you so much, Harold,” his mother went on. “I know the temptations you must have been exposed to. I know how weak men are. I know what your own dear grandfather, my own father, told us about the Civil War and I have prayed for you. I pray for you all day long, Harold.”

Krebs looked at the bacon fat hardening on his plate.*

As compared with, say, “Krebs looked down at his plate, his face flooding with anger and resentment.” Which is what most of us would probably write.

Why every writer should stop reading Hemingway.

It was all a nothing and man was nothing too…Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.**

I mean, in a way it’s brilliant, taking something as familiar as the Lord’s Prayer and perverting it to your own particular brand of nihilism. But come on. It’s nihilism.

Too much Hemingway will mess you up.

*From “Soldier’s Home”
**From “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

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