I was always charmed by the legendary story Papa Hemingway created on a bet, the most succinct yet heartbreaking flash fiction of all time, told in just six simple words:
For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.
What tragedy! What pathos! But then I found out it was complete bullshit, as the story behind the story couldn’t be substantiated. Still, it was a good tale on both sides, and a good choice of carefully chosen words, and if he didn’t create it then someone else surely did. Moreover, it’s an excellent example of Getting Right to the Point. In a literary sense, that was definitely something Ernest Hemingway was an ace at
There’s certain labels you hang on Hemingway when you think of the man or the myth: adventurer, serious drinker, womanizer, the ultimate in toxic masculinity. I’ve had a hard time thinking about the way he dealt with women, Martha Gelhorn, especially, and the way he portrayed some of his female characters. Still, I’ve always respected the parsimonious way he writes, no flowery Faulkner, he. Just straight-to-the-heart or jackhammer prose. I’ve tried to emulate it it though fail often. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying.
Or miss the new miniseries by Ken Burns on PBS starting next week: Hemingway: The Man. The Myth. The Writer Revealed. I‘m always interested in a writer’s process, as it helps me understand my own. Also because I can use all the help I can get.
I am old enough to remember when you could pick up the newspaper want ads and see jobs listed as HELP WANTED – WOMEN and HELP WANTED – MEN. I am old enough to have been fired from a job because the owner wanted a “fresher, more-attractive face” up at the front counter, while the backroom boys made twice what that woman did. I am old enough to remember being passed over for promotion, even though the man who got the job had less experience and education than I did. And even today, with the profession I’m in, we’re paid half as what we should be paid, and is it any accident that we’re mostly women.
Today is Equal Pay Day 2021, and according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, “This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.” Why is it, that over a hundred years after women attained the right to vote, that we’re still struggling over basic issues of fairness, when we make up 50.8 percent of the population?
As I sit here, just coming off of another synchronous online class, my husband walks in with a handful of these lovely blue flowers that just busted through the yard outside. Crocuses — or is it croci? — is what they are, one of the first harbingers of spring, and that perhaps things won’t always stay as shitty as they are now. It’s March 10, and last week we were still shoving aside the snow that collected near our walks and driveways, and now it’s 62 degrees outside. Today, between classes, I ate my lunch out on the deck (standing up, my picnic table still encased in plastic). The sun’s out, daylight savings time comes back this weekend, I have a vaccine appointment scheduled (for May, but at least it’s a date), and a new book to finish. Are things looking up? Those flowers seem to think so. Maybe they’re onto something.