I recently finished re-reading Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises", and was struck by just what a skilled author he was. Although Hemingway doesn't appear in the typical "100 Great Books" lists, I thought I'd take a moment to recognize my favorite American author. He also wrote my all-time favorite collection of short stories, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro".
For those who have not indulged in any of his novels or short stories, permit me a few comments on his writing style. I have always found Hemingway's writing style to be beautiful in its austerity. For me, his great hallmark is his ability to build mystery around some element of a character or a story by talking around it, rather than about it. Often in a Hemingway novel, what is not said is far more important than what is. Sometimes I almost feel as though reading Hemingway is like looking at a relief image, or a photograph negative, where the hills and valleys (or dark and light areas) are swapped in the production of the image.
Another beautiful facet of Hemingway's writing is his attention to detail. In "The Sun Also Rises", when he describes the routes taken by characters through Paris, I can almost feel myself walking down those same streets. When he describes the bull-fights, I can see all the salient details in my mind's eye.
Of course, I think the reason I perennially return to Hemingway is the truth value of his writings. His portrayal of the archetypes of humanity are so recognizable that I always find it easy to compare myself, or those I know, to his characters. His stories also face the ugly truth of human life: that it often mixes the pleasant and unpleasant together in equal (sometimes unequal) measure. In particular, I think that much of Hemingway's portrayals of what goes on between men and women (especially in the sub-text) is often revealing and reflective of some honest realizations about the basic differences between men and women.
Well, that's enough about Hemingway. If you haven't read anything by him, I would highly recommend it. And while none of his works will probably make my "100 Great Books" list, I thought it worth mentioning him here.
Until next time...keeping reading!