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, the highly anticipated sequel to Lamb’s critically acclaimed Art Matters: Hemingway, Craft, and the Creation of the Modern 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.