In Our Time

In Our Time

Half-way through reading Hemmingway\'s collection

In Our Time I was interrupted by my roommate, George. He wanted to know
how I liked the story. He seems to be very impressed that I\'m reading Hemmingway.

I explained to him that it was, in fact, not one story, but a collection
of short stories. He asked if they had a common theme or not, and I found
it difficult to answer. "Yeas and no," I said. I then went on to explain
that although one character, Nick, appeared occasionally, the stories didn\'t
flow as one large story. "It\'s sort of like a painting," I told him, "If
you could pick out any one individual brush-stroke and study it, it would
be meaningless. But if you pull back and see all the brush-strokes, you
can view the painting in its entirety." He thought this was very wise and
went away, contented that I was a literate genius.

Myself, I didn\'t really know what to gather
from the stories. I\'ve never honestly read any Hemmingway previously. I\'ve
started to read The Sun Also Rises about ten times and gotten waylaid by

Batman, Robert B. Parker, and the like each time. I think I read The Old

Man and the Sea ages ago in high school, but it was so long ago that it
has slipped completely from my memory. He is one of those authors that

I always connect with my father and his college years for some reason,
although I\'m not entirely sure why. I\'ve always wanted to read Hemmingway,
but I\'ve always wanted to read all of Shakespeare, Homer, and Eliot, too.

The edition I\'m reading has the short stories
separated by "Chapters" which do and don\'t tell a story. The "Chapters"
strongly remind me of Pink Floyd\'s The Wall. I was also surprised at how
simple it is to read them. They are perfect examples of how Poe defined
the short story: quick, (sometimes) powerful, and written to evoke one
feeling. After reading The End of Something, for example, I was struck
by how easily Hemmingway made me sad. The ending to A Very Short Story
was pure torture. All the stories are simply constructed, no superfluous
words, no extra images to clutter the feeling. They seem to be written
with Strunk and White\'s Elements of Style in mind. After not one of them
was I wanting for more. Each was a universe unto itself. Out of Season
was difficult because I wasn\'t sure of how it made me feel, almost as if
it was beyond me to understand what was happening to the characters and
therefore I wasn\'t supposed to have read it.

I enjoyed reading In Our Time, sitting
on a float in a pool in the sun. The whole time, though, I was worried
about what sort of "response" I was having to each story. I think it clouded
my mind while I was reading and I must try to avoid that. If I had simply
picked the book from a shelf and read it on a summer day, I think my responses
would have been subtly different, although I\'m sure I don\'t know in what
way. I am never sure what kind of "response" a professor is looking for
in these "response" papers, or how formal they should be, but this is obviously
the first of many and I will learn from your response to it.