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Contemporary writers on Hemingway

Date: 06/27/99 00:01


"I keep going back to the stories. I can't resist them. Even now after I don't know how many times over the years I've read them and taught them. They still are great. They'll stand forever, I think. Or a dozen at least will stand forever. And that's a dozen more than anybody else's."

-- Russell Banks, author of Continental Drift and Cloudsplitter


"Although I never felt comfortable (in a readerly way) with Hemingway's novels I did recognize flashing power and beauty in much of the writing. In a way I think those strong, hard sentences have stayed inside me as a writerly example to trim the sentence down, though not to the irreducible minimum as Hemingway often did."

-- E. Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News and Close Range: Wyoming Stories


"As a black author, I don't trust Hemingway's observations on race. Not at all. And I get a bit nervous when he thumps his chest to show his masculinity. Having said all that, I must confess that I appreciate his attempts, flawed as they may be, to deliver the culture of men in literature -- specifically the culture of the sportsman, and I'm sure I felt confident about publishing three stories that explore the world of the Asian martial arts precisely because Hemingway made it OK for a male writer to address, without apology, those time-honored male activities that give men a "rite of passage."

-- Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage and Dreamer


"In a book like For Whom the Bell Tolls, you get the American who goes abroad and seems to understand everything a bit too quickly. There is that kind of desire to be a part of that foreign place. It's understandable that he wants to be a part of it, whether it's Cuba or Spain. There is an assumption that he can articulate that place that doesn't work for me."

-- Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient


"The length of sentences, the sound of words, word choices, it's all sound. It all happens in the mind's ear. And Hemingway was a master controller of the mind's ear. He could make in the mind's ear a kind of solemn incantation that had a moral valence to it. In the way that Gregorian chant or chanted Tibetan mantras have their sound, Hemingway has a kind of moral resonance."

-- Robert Stone, author of Outerbridge Reach, Bear and His Daughter: Stories, Damascus Gate


"What I have found in reading and rereading his fiction and nonfiction is a man deeply tied to the land. He was desperate to find a sense of wildness, not only in the environment he chose to inhabit but in himself. ... I also think his view of women and gender is much more complicated than we are led to believe in the popular culture."

-- Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Note: Quotes compiled by Steve Paul, from an article by him that originally appeared in the centennial issue of The Hemingway Review (Vol. 18, No. 2), an international scholarly journal published by the University of Idaho Press.

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