Thursday, October 15, 2009

On "Hollow."

"If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. The writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing."

Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon


'So I read it a few more times, and I really like it a lot; the writing is great, but -'
'Awesome, thank you. But you didn't really pick up on what I omitted, huh?'
'Honestly, not really. I don't know maybe I'm just not smart enough. I mean, now that you've explained it to me I get it. I definitely felt like a life had been lost; and I felt a sense of overwhelming gloom, but I think some of it was lost on me.'
'No, I was afraid I made it too subtle. Kent always told me I needed to learn subtlety.Guess I went too far. Next time I make chili I won't be afraid to make it a little spicy. Though, I do think the napkin part is a dead giveaway, ya know? She throws away the napkin before it's turned into a flower or whatever.'
'Yeah, I guess I missed that. But - what I've been meaning to ask you - was the title intentional or coincidental?'
'What do you mean?'
'Like the Hemingway theory of omission. Did you name it "Hollow" for that reason?'
'What reason? I named it "Hollow" because the girl got a baby sucked out of her. Like in "Hills like White Elephants." It's a straight Hemingway ripoff, that's for sure. I mean, I'd just read a chapter from A Moveable Feast called "Hunger is Good Discipline" and I was alive with the Hemingway spirit and I decided to write using his iceberg theory.'
'Right. I get that. But did you call it "Hollow" because of that also?'
'Because of what?'
'Well, Hemingway said that if a writer tries to write about something he's never actually experienced it'll turn out hollow. So that's why I thought you called it that. Kind of like a jab at yourself in a way.'
'Whoa. Hemingway really said that?'
'Yeah. You didn't know that? It's in his book Death in the Afternoon, which I know you've read. (I remember you wouldn't shut up about wanting to go see a bullfight).'
'Yeah, I have read that, but I don't remember that part. That's crazy. That's really crazy actually!'
'It's definitely a little spooky. Especially considering you've never went through that before. At least not as far as I know.'
'No, you're right. I haven't ever went through that. Man, it's like Hemingway called me out from beyond the grave.'
'Definitely weird.'

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