They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning.
In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.
— from “Indian Camp” by Ernest Hemingway, 1925
Hemingway writes with simplicity. But beneath those simple sentences and those snapshot images lies an undercurrent of story and tension. A story pushed below the surface. Does it work? For many readers, yes it does. They like the understated style. As for me, I like it until I don’t anymore. I start wondering what Hemingway is really trying to say after all.
Let me read Hemingway in small doses, and then hand me something written by a person who loves words and sentences and paragraphs and isn’t afraid to pile them up until the book is dripping with prose.