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Ernest Hemingway on Writing Paperback – July 6, 1999
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"Throughout Ernest Hemingway's career as a writer," says Larry W. Phillips in his introduction to Ernest Hemingway on Writing, "he maintained that it was bad luck to talk about writing." Hemingway seems to have courted bad luck. Phillips has amassed a slender book's worth of Hemingway's reflections on writing, culled from letters, books, interviews, speeches, and an unpublished manuscript. These musings are arranged into topics such as "Advice to Writers," "Working Habits," and "Obscenity" (of which there is plenty here). Sometimes ponderous, other times offhand, these thoughts form a portrait of a man driven to create not solely the best writing he could, but the best writing, period. Hemingway craved exactness, both in his work and in the work of others; he strove to make every word necessary. "Eschew the monumental," he wrote to Maxwell Perkins in 1932. "Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones." His aim? Mere perfection. "I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit," he confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. "I try to put the shit in the wastebasket." --Jane Steinberg
From Library Journal
Yet another volume reproduced to celebrate old Hemingstein's centennial, this 1984 title offers Hemingway's comments on the writing game gleaned by editor Phillips from the author's numerous fiction and nonfiction works as well as his personal correspondence. It's not "how-to" instructional advice but rather Ernesto's impressions on writing and those who do it. More of a fan's book than a practical guide.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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I had read many of these passages in Hem's other works: A Moveable Feast and the letters quoted in Michael Reynold's multi-volume biography of the writer. This collection brings in some highly insightful passages from the writer's journalism and unpublished correspondence. Hemingway's comments on professional critics are highly entertaining and offer catharsis for the would-be or younger writer.
Ultimately, I simply wanted more. Ten dollars for a short read--while packed with insight--is a lot for a small book. I highly recommend it for anyone unfamiliar with Hemingway's personal views on the craft of writing.
Hemingway and Steinbeck are two of my favourite writers. They are exceptional.
I'd recommend this book to any aspiring writer who just wants to enjoy what one outstanding man had to say about the craft and learn a lot, while gaining a valuable insight into one of the 20th century's greatest authors.
I think it was his sideways glimpses into his craft that offered more than any expository book could have.
I found the book very interesting and I hope it will help me as I pursue my own journey as a writer of fiction.