Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Book Notes: "A Clean Well Lighted Place" by Ernest Hemingway

A Clean Well Lighted PlaceA Clean Well Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I've always had a nagging thought that short stories were a cop-out for an author of novels - a bit like a media article compared to a journal article or a monograph for an academic. This particular short story seems to have been popular for its treatment of the Lord's Prayer, but I am spellbound by Hemingway's ability to shake loose a raft of emotions in such a short space. Maybe it is his self-centredness I identify with - I am not sure - but I seem to be able to identify with all of the characters, torn from the feeling of working with the public in a dull job,to being grateful for a job, to being old and not wanting to be in a popular place but to drink one's poison in a "clean well lighted place", then to hopelessness with a sense of resignation, then dignity and contentment all in one. Doing all of that in a short story is nothing short of remarkable, and consequently, I have changed my mind about short stories generally.



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