The Hemingway Short Story
A Study in Craft for Writers and Readers
Robert Paul Lamb
Narrated by Kirk Hanley
Approximately 10 hours
Book published by Louisiana State University Press
In The Hemingway Short Story: A Study in Craft for Writers and Readers, Robert Paul Lamb delivers a dazzling analysis of the craft of this influential writer. Lamb scrutinizes a selection of Hemingway’s exemplary stories to illuminate the author’s methods of construction and to show how craft criticism complements and enhances cultural literary studies. The Hemingway Short Story reconciles the creative writer’s focus on art with the concerns of cultural critics, establishing the value that craft criticism holds for all readers.
Beautifully written in clear and engaging prose, Lamb’s study presents close readings of representative Hemingway stories such as “Soldier’s Home,” “A Canary for One,” “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen,” and “Big Two-Hearted River.” Lamb’s examination of “Indian Camp,” for instance, explores not only its biographical contexts—showing how details, incidents, and characters developed in the writer’s mind and notebook as he transmuted life into art—but also its original, deleted opening and the final text of the story, uncovering otherwise unseen aspects of technique and new terrains of meaning. Lamb proves that a writer is not merely a site upon which cultural forces contend, but a professional in his or her craft who makes countless conscious decisions in creating a literary text.
Revealing how the short story operates as a distinct literary genre, Lamb provides the meticulous readings that the form demands—showing Hemingway practicing his craft, offering new inclusive interpretations of much debated stories, reevaluating critically neglected stories, analyzing how craft is inextricably entwined with a story’s cultural representations, and demonstrating the many ways in which careful examinations of stories reward us.
Robert Paul Lamb received his doctorate in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University. He is author of Art Matters: Hemingway, Craft, and the Creation of the Modern Short Story and coeditor of A Companion to American Fiction, 1865–1914. He was named the 2008 Indiana Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation.
“Just as Ernest Hemingway is among the great masters of the short story in the English language, Robert Paul Lamb is among Hemingway's most astute critics. Lamb’s insightful readings delight and instruct, and will be cited for years to come.”
—Susan F. Beegel, editor of The Hemingway Review
“Anyone who savors the taut style and wry innuendo of Hemingway’s short fiction will appreciate the meticulous readings Robert Paul Lamb provides in The Hemingway Short Story: A Study in Craft for Writers and Readers. These fine-grained elucidations of five exemplary stories complement the broader discussion of narrative poetics in Lamb’s equally impressive Art Matters: Hemingway, Craft, and the Creation of the Modern Short Story. In the new volume, Lamb’s treatment of such texts as “Indian Camp” and “Big Two Hearted River” brings biography, cultural history, criticism, and theory to bear on each paragraph, and his analysis of interpolated narrative codes (à la Roland Barthes) seems astute, as does his occasional parsing of the meter of crucial lines. Reading The Hemingway Short Story is like attending a master class on literary craft; an expert scholar-critic reveals the subtle methods and moves that produce the distinctive, memorable effects that comprise Hemingway’s literary signature.”
—J. Gerald Kennedy, author of Imagining Paris: Exile, Writing, and American Identity.
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