Hemingway’s Big River

“The river was there.”

Hemingway, of course. In the short story, Big Two-Hearted River, Ernest Hemingway writes the story of a man suffering shell shock from World War I. He hikes along a river in Michigan and through a burned-out forest; his walk parallels his emotional journey to heal.

“He was there in the good place,” is another simple sentence full of meaning. For Hemingway, it is almost the biblical good place which our character finds since nature is an escape from his painful reality. My husband was re-reading Hemingway on our vacation. He thought this story was typical of the sentences Hemingway is famous for – and sometimes parodied for! In fact there is an annual contest called the International Imitation Hemingway Competition which pays mock homage to the famous author’s trademark style with entries like The Snooze of Kilimanjaro and The Old Man and the Flea. The winning writer gets an all expenses paid trip to a Harry’s Bar in Italy. I’m not sure this contest is still going on.. if so it’s certainly worth studying Hemingway for!

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