The Short Story: Why we love them. C

The Glorious Intensity of a Great Short Story


Karl Lagerfeld’s Library
Karl Lagerfeld’s Library

“They mightn’t sell as much as a blockbuster novel, but our desire for an extraordinary short story that takes you to dark places prevails,” writes Ana Kinsella in her latest books column

JULY 05, 2019TEXTAna Kinsella

It may be hard to believe, but back in the 1920s, short fiction was big business. For the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, cranking out a few short stories to sell to magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, with their massive circulation figures, meant enough money to drown yourself in the finest martinis New York could offer. Today, 100 years later, the publishing industry looks a little different. When was the last time you paid for some written content on the internet, by the way? The $4,000 fee that Fitzgerald received (and bear in mind that’s 1920s money; think around £200,000 when adjusted for inflation) can only be dreamed of by authors today. But the peculiar thing is that there’s still something of a market out there, albeit one that has changed considerably.

Fitz and Hem: They could write short stories that you never forgot

Take Cat Person. Towards the end of 2017, a dark political year by anyone’s standards, the New Yorker published Kristen Roupenian’s short story and inadvertently triggered a tornado of hot takes on Twitter. Cat Person, though I probably don’t need to tell you this, latched onto some part of our collective imagination, some part shared by all the women who’d gone on bad dates with gross men and who’d looked for greater meaning in the ghosting that followed. It not only demonstrated the power of a well-written short story, but also our appetite for the format. In today’s climate of snackable content and videos that cut off after 15 seconds, it might be that a short story is just the palate cleanser we need most.

But what makes a well-written short story? For readers, they need to be tight and taut, packed with only the most necessary elements to draw us in and keep us involved over the course of a handful of pages. One perfect example is Raymond Carver, the American writer whose 1970s and 1980s stories demonstrated the value of saying less. There’s no room in a short story for fuss or frills; in a 500-page novel, on the other hand, there can be plenty of opportunity to digress. A good short story feels like a tightrope act, and by the time it ends, you can feel all the emotions of a blockbuster novel, but delivered a single smooth punch that knocks you to the ground and leaves you seeing stars. 

knock out punch

This is not to say that writing a novel is by comparison an easy feat. But dip into one of Lydia Davis’s breathtakingly lucid short stories (start with Break It Down) and tell me that there isn’t something totally unique about the heft that a mere 20 or so pages can carry, when done properly. Knowing what to condense into so little space, and bringing the reader on an emotional journey along the way, is a challenge not suited to every writer.

So all that said, why would anyone bother writing them? It’s all in the arc, as Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure and award-winning short story writer, tried to explain it to me. “Short stories are inherently more playful I think,” she mused.  “I try and see them as an opportunity to take a risk every time in some way, because if it doesn’t work out you can just go and write another one. You can go really deep into a moment in the way that a novel can’t always, and the shorter, sharper arc of a truly great story can be just completely disorienting, intense in a way I think you can’t sustain over a whole book.”

Hem and Black Dog

Reading the likes of Tenth of December by George Saunders or Especially Heinous by Carmen Maria Machado reveals the shocking fervour a well-wrought story can have. “Because you can read stories in one sitting, it’s a form perfectly suited for high-intensity experiences,” explains Thomas Morris, author of the short story collection We Don’t Know What We’re Doing. “When I finish reading a great story, I feel as if I’ve come away changed. And it’s incredible to me that I can have this kind of experience in the time between waking up and having my breakfast.” According to Thomas, the main difficulty when writing a short story is “knowing when to get in and when to get out. They’re like burglaries in that regard. Sometimes you need to linger, and keep searching for the treasure. Other times, it requires a smash and grab job.” 

They mightn’t sell as much as a blockbuster novel, but as Cat Person itself proves, our desire for an extraordinary short story that takes you to dark places prevails. The perfect short story might not exist, but the very best can feel close to ideal exemplars of what can be done with words in such a short space. Lingering in the mind, like a microcosm of relationships or heartaches or middle-of-the-night fears, the power of the short story might be found in its willingness to dive right in and explore the murky depths that lie within us. 

Another look at Things:

Dear Hemingway Fans and Readers: I am completely apolitical on this Blog but found this article interesting. I majored in History at Smith College and one of my professors was the great historian, Max Salvadori, who stressed that events have to be put in context. While today, some behaviors may seem beyond comprehension, barbaric, unfathomable, the times were different and while bad is still bad, there is context. People are always saying to me, “Oh Hemingway. Wasn’t he a brute who liked bullfighting and he hunted animals in Africa. He’s despicable.” OK, I don’t like those things either but he was more than that as a person and a writer and it was a different time with different sensibilities. So, you too may find this article interesting. Thank you for reading. I added a few photos. Best, Christine

Larry Taunton: Did the Greatest Generation ‘fail’ us?

Larry Alex Taunton

 By Larry Alex Taunton | Fox News

Did the Greatest Generation fail us? Some historians seem to think so.

When I was a graduate student in history, it was my great privilege to learn from celebrated historian Forrest McDonald, a man who made his reputation trashing leftistnonsense.

young Hem

In guiding my thesis, he cautioned me against a kind of nonsense common among historians: imposing the mores of our own time on those who lived in another. Curbing my youthful idealism without annihilating it, McDonald counseled me to recognize that while I might author history books, I am nonetheless a part of history and therefore subject to the same limited perspectives as those I would presume to judge.

It would, for example, be silly to judge history’s heroes by the ever-changing standards of today. One shudders to think of how the photos of Theodore Roosevelt posing with the dead elephants and rhinos he killed would be received on social media today. And what about Ernest Hemingway, who loved women, war and bullfighting? Surely, he would be required to attend sensitivity training to cure him of his “toxic masculinity.”

But this has not stopped “social justice warriors” who, ignorant of historical context but certain of the infallibility of their own judgment, still seek to impose impossible standards on the past. They aren’t rewriting history as much as they are reinterpreting it according to new progressive laws applied retroactively.

How would progressives — any of us, really — fare when measured against the standards of the generation that once saved the world?

With Buck Lanahan

Take, for example, a recent column authored by Case Western Reserve University Professor John Broich titled, “Allied leaders were anti-Nazi, but not anti-racist. We’re now paying the price for their failure.”

In his inflammatory essay, Broich accused the Greatest Generation of fighting World War II for the wrong reasons. According to Broich, both President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill “failed to comprehend the basic nature of German fascism.” They rallied their respective countries to go to war against Nazism for its “savagery and barbarism,” but not for its racism.

It takes more than a little temerity to assert that two of the 20th century’s most iconic and successful statesmen may not have understood the very thing they committed their vast resources to destroying. One might also think that racism falls under the broad umbrella of “savagery and barbarism.”

But things are different to the progressive mind.

“The leaders of the United States and Britain,” Broich wrote, “rarely attacked the core tenet of Nazism: the belief in a master race.”

At the liberation of Paris

The implication here is that Churchill and Roosevelt, failing to deliver a detailed treatise denouncing Nazi racial policy, must have had no strong objections to it. Most inflammatory of all, Broich makes the continental leap in logic from this to “the alarming rise of white-power violence, from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh and now to Poway, California.” And that, of courses, it what is meant by the assertion “we’re now paying the price for their failure.”

Hem and son Gregory

Failure? History demonstrates that the opposite is true.

I would remind Professor Broich that the Greatest Generation crushed Nazism under the tracks of tanks and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives; they liberated the Death Camps; and, unique in history up to that time, they established an international tribunal where they tried, imprisoned, and executed many of those who ran them. They then set their sights on another evil empire and, before departing this world, they destroyed that, too, liberating millions more.

Not a bad resumé.

Broich’s column didn’t get much play, but it is significant because it offers insight into the social justice warrior’s mentality that inspires the destruction of monuments and the reinterpretation of history at the safe distance of decades and centuries and from high atop ivory towers. Yes, it is true that the World War II generation didn’t solve all the world’s problems. Poverty, unemployment, war, racism and several dozen more problems remain. But in the words of Billy Joel, they didn’t start those fires. Some they inherited, others they bequeathed.

What’s next? Will they discover FDR didn’t favor same-sex marriage or that Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall didn’t believe in climate change? God help their memories if they do.

Perhaps a more interesting question is this: How would progressives — any of us, really — fare when measured against the standards of the generation that once saved the world? Would they have been ready to endure the same privations of the Great Depression? To live their lives without any meaningful social welfare net to catch them? To storm the beaches of Normandy? To liberate Europe and Japan and to rebuild both? To make great leaps forward in addressing social and racial inequality? And to do it all without whining?

In light of such questions, maybe we should be humble, thankful, and avoid what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.”

Hemingway look alikes or wanna-bes: Another year of Hemingway contests

Michael Groover, kneeling, husband of celebrity chef Paula Deen, poses with past winners of the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest Saturday, July 21, 2018, at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West.

Andy Newman Florida Keys News Bureau At least 100 burly men — most with full, snowy white beards — are gathered in Key West this week to find out who best resembles legendary author Ernest Hemingway, who made the island his home in the 1930s. Last year’s lookalike contest drew more than 150 Hemingways vying for the honor. Nearly all the participants choose the older Ernest as a get-up. The 39th annual Hemingway Days, however, mostly celebrates his literary contributions with various events set to discuss his legacy, poetry readings and film screenings. Read more here:

Spain: Pamplona kicks off running of bulls festival

I’m sure Hemingway didn’t expect this

Alvaro Barrientos and Aritz Parra, Associated Press Updated 8:04 am EDT, Saturday, July 6, 2019

PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) — The blast of a traditional firework on Saturday opened nine days of uninterrupted partying in Pamplona’s famed running of the bulls festival.

A member of the northern city’s official brass band was chosen for this year’s launch of the rocket, known as the “Chupinazo,” to mark 100 years since the local ensemble’s foundation.

Jesús Garísoain addressed an ecstatic crowd from the city hall’s balcony, declaring “Long live San Fermin,” the saint honored by the festival. The blast was met by an eruption of joy from revelers, who sprayed each other with wine, staining in pink the traditional attire of white clothes and a red scarf.

Early 20th-century American author Ernest Hemingway immortalized the fiesta in his “The Sun Also Rises” novel.

During the festival, Pamplona’s population swells from nearly 200,000 residents to around a million visitors, who are attracted by the adrenaline boost of bull runs along an 850-meter (930-yard) street course to the city’s bullring and seamless nights of partying.

The city is also trying to leave behind the scandal that stemmed from a gang rape of an 18-year-old woman during the 2016 festival. The initial prison sentences for sexual abuse to the five defendants was seen as too lenient and led to widespread public outcry, galvanizing the country’s feminist movement.

Last month, Spain’s Supreme Court overruled the lower courts and sentenced the men to 15 years in prison for rape. In the full-length ruling, published on Friday, judges say the attackers were fully aware of the crime they were committing and bragged about it in a WhatsApp group that they called “The Animal Pack.”

The case has led to authorities in Pamplona to step up police surveillance and set up information booths, cellphone apps and 24-hour hotlines allowing instant reporting of abuse cases.

The days of The Sun Also Rises.

The protests of pro-animal rights groups have also become a fixture in recent years. On the eve of the festival, dozens of semi-naked activists staged a performance simulating speared bulls lying dead on Pamplona’s cobbled streets to draw attention at what they see as animal cruelty for the sake of human entertainment.

Bullfights are protected under the Spanish Constitution as part of the country’s cultural heritage.

Old Hollywood Writing and where they drank

PlayMay 01, 2019

Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall have a drink at Musso & Frank Grill in 1957. (Frank Worth, Courtesy of Capital Art/Getty Images)
Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall have a drink at Musso & Frank Grill in 1957. (Frank Worth, Courtesy of Capital Art/Getty Images)

The legendary Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard opened before there was a Hollywood sign. For 100 years now, stars, studio heads and writers have settled into the restaurant’s red leather banquettes to negotiate, gossip, drink and eat.

Anyone who has dined at Musso’s has an opinion about it — and after 100 years, that adds up to a lot of opinions. They include: “It’s our favorite place to go for special events,” and “We go for the martinis, not the food” and “The food’s not bad, especially the chicken pot pie every Thursday.”

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Musso’s specializes in comfort food from an earlier generation — some dishes have been on the menu for decades. You can order tongue, calf liver, lamb kidneys, sweetbreads or sauerbraten. (When Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones is in Los Angeles, he gets the liver and onions.)

Welsh rarebit, another old-school dish, is not for calorie-counters. It’s a melted cheddar cheese sauce spiked with beer, mustard, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce poured over toast points and served on a platter with a big spoon. (There are tomato slices on the side for the dieters at the table.) Some people order the rarebit without really knowing what it is, says server Sergio Gonzalez. “Where’s the rabbit?” they ask.

The menu has been lightened up over the years, according to Musso’s fourth-generation owner/operator Mark Echeverria. But the dishes that last the longest are the comfort foods. “People want to know they can come into a restaurant and get that dish that they had 30 years ago,” he says.

Generations of stars and filmmakers have been Musso regulars — George Clooney and Brad Pitt eat here, and decades earlier you might have run into folks like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner.

Echeverria says Musso’s started as a writer’s hangout. (F. Scott Fitzgerald would mix his own mint juleps behind the bar.)

“The Screen Writers Guild was actually across the street, and back in the ’20s and ’30s these studios were hiring novelists to come and write screenplays,” Echeverria explains. But the movie moguls didn’t always like the scripts — and the writers didn’t always like the changes. So? “The novelists would come to the Screen Writers Guild to complain and then walk across the street and get drunk at Musso’s,” Echeverria says.

Bartender Graham Miller makes one of Musso’s famous $13 martinis. (Danny Hajek/NPR)

Film and TV people still come to Musso’s, especially on Thursdays for the chicken pot pie. Gonzales has served them for 47 years — almost half the life of the place. Gonzales, now 66, just works lunches. It’s good exercise, he says, but hard on the feet — “You have to wear the right shoes,” he says.

For a century now, through droughts, downpours, mudslides, fires and earthquakes, there’s been Musso & Frank’s Grill. In 1994, a friend of mine was working nearby during the Northridge earthquake — the town was terrified. After work, he went to dinner at Musso’s, where it was business as usual. The place was packed, he said; apparently everyone needed comfort food that night.

Doodlers? You are in good company.

What Do Ernest Hemingway, Queen Victoria, and Marlon Brando Have in Common? They Were Dedicated Doodlers—See Their Work Here

Take a look inside a new book dedicated to the doodles of famous people. Sadly i don’t see a Hem scrawl but it is still interesting. I am a dedicated doodler so this was fun. Best, Christine

artnet News, April 11, 2019

The cover of Scrawl (2019). Courtesy of Rizzoli.
The cover of Scrawl (2019). Courtesy of Rizzoli. 

We all do it. Sitting in a meeting or a waiting room, we pick up a pen and scrap of paper and mindlessly start to scribble. We’re in good company: Ernest Hemingway, Claude Monet, Queen Victoria and many other notable names throughout history did it too. And now you can see the fruits of their mindless labor, all in one place.

A new book, “Scrawl: An A to Z of Famous Doodles,” brings together two centuries’ worth of sketches by nearly 100 of the world’s most important artists, politicians, and scientists. They were collected over the course of 40 years by the late David Schulson, who founded a company—now called Schulson Autographs—that sought out and sold handwritten ephemera by famous figures.

The book, published by Rizzoli, will be available to the public on May 14. It was compiled Schulson’s wife, Claudia Strauss-Schulson, and their children, Caren and Todd Strauss-Schulson.

Jack Kerouac, painting made with house paint and glue. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Jack Kerouac, painting made with house paint and glue. Courtesy of Rizzoli.

Included are pictures and notes in the marginalia of artist sketchbooks, office letterhead, and even White House meeting notes. Each provides a glimpse into the personality of the illustrator. Some are deeply fitting: conceptual artist Sol LeWitt pointing out the “points on the plane of a napkin,” for instance, or a psychedelic drawing by Beat Generation novelist Jack Kerouac.

Others are more generic—a silly smiley face by fashion photographer Richard Avedon or an ad-hoc to-do list by Steve Jobs. (Celebrities: they’re just like us!) Unsurprisingly, there are also nudes: from the crude and cartoonish, like a comically well-endowed self-portrait by filmmaker Federico Fellini, to the strangely sensual, such as an intimate sketch of faces and naked body parts by actor Marlon Brando.

You can find more information on “Scrawl: An A to Z of Famous Doodles” here. See examples from the book below.

Roland Torpor, sketch with pen and ink. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Roland Torpor, sketch with pen and ink. Courtesy of Rizzoli.

Marlon Brando. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Marlon Brando. Courtesy of Rizzoli.

Tennessee Williams. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Tennessee Williams. Courtesy of Rizzoli.

Sketch by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, March 3, 1959. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Steve Jobs. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Steve Jobs. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Queen Victoria. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Queen Victoria. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Pablo Picasso, drawing, Paris 1951. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Pablo Picasso, drawing, Paris 1951. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Sol Lewitt, sketch on a napkin. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Sol LeWitt, sketch on a napkin. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Federico Fellini. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Federico Fellini. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Romare Beardon, letter to David Schulson, late 1970s. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Romare Bearden, letter to David Schulson, late 1970s. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Richard Avedon. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Richard Avedon. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Andy Warhol, sketch. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.

Andy Warhol, sketch. Courtesy of Schulson Autographs.
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Cats: so sayeth Hemingway

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty,” as Ernest Hemingway put it. “Human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”

Yes, I think this is so. Generally I am a dog person but i have a cat and i find him to be wonderful, funny, and direct.

Phinneus and Izzie

Dining room in Cuba and drinking with cat
Cat in the Rain: A favorite short story

Hemingway as musical inspiration:

Tales of Hemingway 

Hello Hemingway readers! I thought that this article would be about music that might be inspired by some of Hemingway’s novels. It appears however that it is a looser association and is based on mental health issues. Still Hem inspires and is relevant. Best to all, Christine

By JACQUELINE HALBLOOM APR 5, 2019 Symphonies of IowaTweetShareGoogle+Email


This week, IPR’s Symphonies of Iowa features internationally acclaimed cellist Zuill Bailey and Iowa’s own Michael Daugherty on Orchestra Iowa’s “Tales of Hemingway” concert.

The program opens with Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, a depiction of the story of Coriolanus, a Roman patrician. Then, Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway is performed with guest cellist Zuill Bailey.

Orchestra Iowa performs Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway, an orchestral work inspired by the literature of American author Ernest Hemingway. Guest cellist Zuill Bailey won the 2017 GRAMMY Awards for his world premiere performance of the work with the Nashville Symphony.

Michael Daugherty, a native of Cedar Rapids, is one of the ten most performed American concert-music composers. He has received six GRAMMY awards and international recognition. Daugherty’s music has been “commissioned and premiered by many of the world’s leading orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony.” He studied composition with “many of the preeminent composers of the 20th century, including Jacob Druckman, Earle Brown, Bernard Rands, and Roger Reynolds at Yale, Pierre Boulez in Paris, and György Ligeti in Hamburg.”  Daugherty is also a frequent guest conductor of professional orchestras, university wind ensembles, and festivals around the world.

Orchestra Iowa also performs Jocelyn Morlock’s My Name is Amanda Todd, the tragic story of a young teenager who took her own life in 2012. The program ends with a performance of Schumann’s Symphony No. 4.

Each piece performed in Orchestra Iowa’s “Tales of Hemingway” concert has a tie to shedding light on mental health awareness, either through the inspiration of the piece or through the composer.

Listen below as Michael Daugherty shares details on his concept for Tales of Hemingway.


BEETHOVEN                       Coriolan Overture, Op. 62

DAUGHERTY                       Tales of Hemingway

MORLOCK                           My Name Is Amanda Todd

SCHUMANN                       Symphony No. 4

Special Appearances

Tim Hankewich, conductor

Zuill Bailey, celloListen Listening…0:00Listen to Jacqueline’s interview with Michael Daugherty here.TweetShareGoogle+Email

Joint Venture: Cuba and US Conservation Center at Finca Vigia, Hem’s Home

HAVANA — U.S. donors and Cuban builders have completed one of the longest-running joint projects between the two countries at a low point in bilateral relations.

Officials from the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation and Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council cut the ribbon Saturday evening on a state-of-the-art, $1.2 million conservation center on the grounds of Ernest Hemingway’s stately home on a hill overlooking Havana.

The center, which has been under construction since 2016, contains modern technology for cleaning and preserving a multitude of artifacts from the home where Hemingway lived in the 1940s and 1950s.

When he died in 1961, the author left approximately 5,000 photos, 10,000 letters and perhaps thousands of margin notes in roughly 9,000 books at the property.

“The laboratory we’re inaugurating today is the only one in Cuba with this capacity and it will allow us to contribute to safeguarding the legacy of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba,” said Grisell Fraga, director of the Ernest Hemingway Museum.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, spoke at the ceremony and called it a sign of the potential for U.S.-Cuban cooperation despite rising tensions between the Communist government and the Trump administration.