Ernest Hemingway: The High School Years

Article excerpt

Aspiring Hemingways, take heart: There was a time when Papa was an earnest writer, but no Hemingway.

The evidence is a book of Ernest Hemingway's earliest writings, compiled by librarians at his high school. It shows a glimpse of the style that eventually won him Nobel and Pulitzer prizes - but only a glimpse.

"The style that we associate with him isn't there yet," said Michael Reynolds, a Hemingway scholar and an English professor at North Carolina State University, who wrote a forward to the book.

"I think it's always encouraging to see someone like Hemingway was writing so cliched, stereotypically, because it does give you hope if you want to write yourself," she said.

The writings from 1916-17, covering Hemingway's junior and senior years, appear in "Hemingway at Oak Park High." The 128-page book, published last fall, contains Hemingway works that appeared in the Trapeze, the student newspaper, and the Tabula, a literary magazine and yearbook.

The writings range from sports articles to short stories to a ballad: "Oh, I've never writ a ballad, And I'd rather eat shrimp salad . . . ."

Reynolds said Hemingway was sometimes amusing, certainly precocious and "clearly a showoff."

But the book also reveals Hemingway's growing maturity as a writer. His works gradually foreshadow the Hemingway who in 1953 would win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for "The Old Man and the Sea" and the Nobel Prize in literature in 1954.

"Some of the early stories are reporting stories, and they're not very clever," said Cynthia Maziarka, one of the librarians who compiled the anthology. …