In Our Time consists of 16 stories, all followed by a “chapter” or rather a paragraph describing various events from World War I. The stories mostly follow Nick Adams from boyhood to adulthood, but introduce other characters as well.
Hemingway’s mastery with the written word still astounds me. At once seemingly simplistic, his descriptives are so vivid, that he takes us to the heart of any locale without our knowing how we got there.
I’m not quite sure how to review a book of short stories so will review just two or three.
In Indian Camp, Nick joins his father and uncle as they assist an Indian woman with a difficult, possibly breech, birth. The story focuses on the surgical procedure and Nick’s observations and has little mention of the laboring woman. After the delivery, the child’s father is found dead in a bunk from a self-inflicted neck slashing which Nick also witnesses. To his questions, Nick’s father answers bluntly, yet honestly and as the trio leave, somewhat unsettled, it is with an essence of male bonding.
The End of Something juxtaposes the end of a mill town with the end of a relationship. As Nick eyes the once thriving town of Hortons Bay, he notes that only the foundation of the building remains. As he and Marjorie fish, he is sullen and after prodding, acknowledges that he has become bored with their time together. Marjorie packs up and leaves and Nick seems unsure if he did the right thing.
My Old Man is a story of a jockey and his son Joe who travel to Milan and Paris to the world of horseracing and its bright and dark sides. Joe’s father works hard at keeping in shape and shares his love of horses with his son. Needing to add to his income, some sure bets are made and reputations are called into question. A tragic fall takes horse and rider down and disparaging comments are overhead by Joe.
I think I’d rather enjoy camping and trout fishing with Mr. Hemingway. Of course, we’d make merry with some alcohol while he would span some fantastic yarns. While much was made of his life in Paris and wild safaris, I’d like to have him share some tales from the back of his ambulance.
My rating for In Our Time is a 9 out of 10.
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