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Winner Take Nothing Kindle Edition

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The One I Was
The One I Was by Eliza Graham
A beautiful and haunting tale of friendship, redemption and forgiveness across generations. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ernest Hemingway did more to influence the style of English prose than any other writer of his time. Publication of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms immediately established him as one of the greatest literary lights of the 20th century. His classic novella The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He died in 1961.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: After the Storm

It wasn't about anything, something about making punch, and then we started fighting and I slipped and he had me down kneeling on my chest and choking me with both hands like he was trying to kill me and all the time I was trying to get the knife out of my pocket to cut him loose. Everybody was too drunk to pull him off me. He was choking me and hammering my head on the floor and I got the knife out and opened it up; and I cut the muscle right across his arm and he let go of me. He couldn't have held on if he wanted to. Then he rolled and hung onto that arm and started to cry and I said:

"What the hell you want to choke me for?"

I'd have killed him. I couldn't swallow for a week. He hurt my throat bad.

Well, I went out of there and there were plenty of them with him and some came out after me and I made a turn and was down by the docks and I met a fellow and he said somebody killed a man up the street. I said "Who killed him?" and he said "I don't know who killed him but he's dead all right," and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside of Mango Key and she was all right only she was full of water. So I bailed her out and pumped her out and there was a moon but plenty of clouds and still plenty rough and I took it down along; and when it was daylight I was off Eastern Harbor.

Brother, that was some storm. I was the first boat out and you never saw water like that was. It was just as white as a lye barrel and coming from Eastern Harbor to Sou'west Key you couldn't recognize the shore. There was a big channel blown right out through the middle of the beach. Trees and all blown out and a channel cut through and all the water white as chalk and everything on it; branches and whole trees and dead birds, and all floating. Inside the keys were all the pelicans in the world and all kinds of birds flying. They must have gone inside there when they knew it was coming.

I lay at Sou'west Key a day and nobody came after me. I was the first boat out and I seen a spar floating and I knew there must be a wreck and I started out to look for her. I found her. She was a three-masted schooner and I could just see the stumps of her spars out of water. She was in too deep water and I didn't get anything off of her. So I went on looking for something else. I had the start on all of them and I knew I ought to get whatever there was. I went on down over the sand-bars from where I left that three-masted schooner and I didn't find anything and I went on a long way. I was way out toward the quicksands and I didn't find anything so I went on. Then when I was in sight of the Rebecca Light I saw all kinds of birds making over something and I headed over for them to see what it was and there was a cloud of birds all right.

I could see something looked like a spar up out of the water and when I got over close the birds all went up in the air and stayed all around me. The water was clear out there and there was a spar of some kind sticking out just above the water and when I come up close to it I saw it was all dark under water like a long shadow and I came right over it and there under water was a liner; just lying there all under water as big as the whole world. I drifted over her in the boat. She lay on her side and the stern was deep down. The port holes were all shut tight and I could see the glass shine in the water and the whole of her; the biggest boat I ever saw in my life laying there and I went along the whole length of her and then I went over and anchored and I had the skiff on the deck forward and I shoved it down into the water and sculled over with the birds all around me.

I had a water glass like we use sponging and my hand shook so I could hardly hold it. All the port holes were shut that you could see going along over her but way down below near the bottom something must have been open because there were pieces of things floating out all the time. You couldn't tell what they were. Just pieces. That's what the birds were after. You never saw so many birds. They were all around me; crazy yelling.

I could see everything sharp and clear. I could see her rounded over and she looked a mile long under the water. She was lying on a clear white bank of sand and the spar was a sort of foremast or some sort of tackle that slanted out of water the way she was laying on her side. Her bow wasn't very far under. I could stand on the letters of her name on her bow and my head was just out of water. But the nearest port hole was twelve feet down. I could just reach it with the grains pole and I tried to break it with that but I couldn't. The glass was too stout. So I sculled back to the boat and got a wrench and lashed it to the end of the grains pole and I couldn't break it. There I was looking down through the glass at that liner with everything in her and I was the first one to her and I couldn't get into her. She must have had five million dollars worth in her.

It made me shaky to think how much she must have in her. Inside the port hole that was closest I could see something but I couldn't make it out through the water glass. I couldn't do any good with the grains pole and I took off my clothes and stood and took a couple of deep breaths and dove over off the stern with the wrench in my hand and swam down. I could hold on for a second to the edge of the port hole and I could see in and there was a woman inside with her hair floating all out. I could see her floating plain and I hit the glass twice with the wrench hard and I heard the noise clink in my ears but it wouldn't break and I had to come up.

I hung onto the dinghy and got my breath and then I climbed in and took a couple of breaths and dove again. I swam down and took hold of the edge of the port hole with my fingers and held it and hit the glass as hard as I could with the wrench. I could see the woman floated in the water through the glass. Her hair was tied once close to her head and it floated all out in the water. I could see the rings on one of her hands. She was right up close to the port hole and I hit the glass twice and I didn't even crack it. When I came up I thought I wouldn't make it to the top before I'd have to breathe.

I went down once more and I cracked the glass, only cracked it, and when I came up my nose was bleeding and I stood on the bow of the liner with my bare feet on the letters of her name and my head just out and rested there and then I swam over to the skiff and pulled up into it and sat there waiting for my head to stop aching and looking down into the water glass, but I bled so I had to wash out the water glass. Then I lay back in the skiff and held my hand under my nose to stop it and I lay there with my head back looking up and there was a million birds above and all around.

When I quit bleeding I took another look through the glass and then I sculled over to the boat to try and find something heavier than the wrench but I couldn't find a thing; not even a sponge hook. I went back and the water was clearer all the time and you could see everything that floated out over that white bank of sand. I looked for sharks but there weren't any. You could have seen a shark a long way away. The water was so cleak and the sand white. There was a grapple for an anchor on the skiff and I cut it off and went overboard and down with it. It carried me right down and past the port hole and I grabbed and couldn't hold anything and went on down and down, sliding along the curved side of her. I had to let go of the grapple. I heard it bump once and it seemed like a year before I came up through to the top of the water. The skiff was floated away with the tide and I swam over to her with my nose bleeding in the water while I swam and I was plenty glad there weren't sharks; but I was tired.

My head felt cracked open and I lay in the skiff and rested and then I sculled back. It was getting along in the afternoon. I went down once more with the wrench and it didn't do any good. That wrench was too light. It wasn't any good diving unless you had a big hammer or something heavy enough to do good. Then I lashed the wrench to the grains pole again and I watched through the water glass and pounded on the glass and hammered until the wrench came off and I saw it in the glass, clear and sharp, go sliding down along her and then off and down to the quicksand and go in. Then I couldn't do a thing. The wrench was gone and I'd lost the grapple so I sculled back to the boat. I was too tired to get the skiff aboard and the sun was pretty low. The birds were all pulling out and leaving her and I headed for Sou'west Key towing the skiff and the birds going on ahead of me and behind me. I was plenty tired.

That night it came on to blow and it blcw for a week. You couldn't get out to her. They come out from town and told me the fellow I'd had to cut was all right except for his arm and I went back to town and they put me under five hundred dollar bond. It came out all right because some of them, friends of mine, swore he was after me with an ax, but by the time we got back out to her the Greeks had blown her open and cleaned her out. They got the safe out with dynamite. Nobody ever knows how much they got. She carried gold and they got it all. They stripped her clean. I found her and I never got a nickel out of her.

It was a hell of a thing all right. They say she was just outside of Havana harbor when the hurricane hit and she couldn't get in or the owners wouldn't let the captain chance coming in; they say he wanted to try; so she had to go with it and in the dark they were running with it trying to go through the gulf between Rebecca and Tortugas when she struck on the quicksands. Maybe her rudder was carried away. Maybe they weren't even steering. But anyway they couldn't have known they were quicksands and when she struck the captain must have ordered them to open up the ballast tanks so she'd lay solid. But it was quicksand she'd...

Product Details

  • File Size: 491 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 25, 2002)
  • Publication Date: July 25, 2002
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0WXI
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,912 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Ernest Hemingway ranks as the most famous of twentieth-century American writers; like Mark Twain, Hemingway is one of those rare authors most people know about, whether they have read him or not. The difference is that Twain, with his white suit, ubiquitous cigar, and easy wit, survives in the public imagination as a basically, lovable figure, while the deeply imprinted image of Hemingway as rugged and macho has been much less universally admired, for all his fame. Hemingway has been regarded less as a writer dedicated to his craft than as a man of action who happened to be afflicted with genius. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1954, Time magazine reported the news under Heroes rather than Books and went on to describe the author as "a globe-trotting expert on bullfights, booze, women, wars, big game hunting, deep sea fishing, and courage." Hemingway did in fact address all those subjects in his books, and he acquired his expertise through well-reported acts of participation as well as of observation; by going to all the wars of his time, hunting and fishing for great beasts, marrying four times, occasionally getting into fistfights, drinking too much, and becoming, in the end, a worldwide celebrity recognizable for his signature beard and challenging physical pursuits.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Ernest Hemingway, Winner Take Nothing (Scribner's, 1933)

Arguably Hemingway's finest book of short stories, Winner Take Nothing contains fourteen relatively short and always spare looks at various stages of life. What seem, upon first reading, to be nothing more than frameworks or outlines take on more meat upon reflection. Hemingway lets the reader fill in the small details, guiding his imagination rather than manipulating it. This does mean that the onus is on the reader more than usual with this book; Hemingway's work is meant to be thought-provoking rather than escapist. If you can make it to the end of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," the second story in the book, and reflect on it without feeling anything, then the book's probably not for you. Those who approach it with the proper mindset, however, will find it to be full of opportunities to plumb one's own imagination. ****
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This was the first Hemingway book I have read and I was surprised. I always imagined his books were boring and completely symbolibic to the point that you don't understand it. However I enjoyed this book and all the short stories involved in this. All the stories were interesting and connected the theme that the "winner takes nothing" in different situations. I enjoyed the fact that since he probably wrote this in Europe, Hemingway weaved French and sometimes German into the dialogue. Also in one story Fitzgerald is mentioned as a wild child. "Winner take nothing" is an easy book to understand and follow, and the stories are original.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim on April 23, 2015
Format: Paperback
Not his best set of short stories. I suspect Hemingway was drinking heavily during this period. There are some bright spots but overall this is only for people like myself that are seeking to read all of Hemingway's published work in order. On to Green Hills of Africa!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stefanos Tsimey on April 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Every musician knows that the elements ommited have an equal, if not greater impact with\than the elements included. In his 'Paris Review' interview in 1964, Hemingway stated that music theory and especially counterpoint has been a major influence on his writing style.

I don't know the degree of this influence, but his 'iceberg' style is ingenuous and conducive to great literture, and the short-story format may well be the most fertile ground for this technique to blossom. His stories feel 'real', like a painting with great texture, full of little details that bring fulness and persuasiness, like a profound piece of music that reveals more sounds every time you listen to it. Technically, this is what we'd call 'quality literature'.

Some of his stories are really great and timeless, offering great insights, but the author offers these insights obliquely, making you work for them, implying rather than being direct. This is great: in many literary works that present philosophical views, you get the feeling that the author is trying to patronise you; not with Hemingway.

That said, some of the stories are not really good, or at least that's my humble opinion. Even the best musicians have written bad pieces.

The good ones deserve five stars, the bad ones get three, two, or less. Overall, I highly recommend it as a good short-story collection from a great writer. To first-time readers of uncle Earnest I'd recommend to read 'The sun also rises' or 'A farewell to arms' first. Music's apparent simplicity is deceptive: to properly appreciate and enjoy a musician's work, the listener is advised to begin with some of his early works to better grasp his personal style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By yoelarry on June 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Read these early writings only After you've read some of Hemingway's truly great novels and later and better short stories.
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