Early Hemingway Offers Hope for Late Bloomers

Article excerpt

Aspiring Hemingways, take heart: There was a time when Ernest was no Hemingway.

The evidence is in a book of Ernest Hemingway's earliest writings, compiled by librarians at his high school. It shows both the first glimmers of his mature style and his struggles to develop it.

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

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 features Hemingway works that appeared in the Trapeze, the student newspaper; and the Tabula, a literary magazine and yearbook.

From sports articles to short stories and a ballad, Hemingway's earliest works reveal a prolific young writer who exulted in his craft.

"I'm not sure that he would have seemed all that remarkable now," said Reynolds, an English professor at North Carolina State University who wrote a forward to the book. "The style that we associate with him isn't there yet."

Reynolds said Hemingway was sometimes amusing, certainly precocious and "clearly a showoff" whose name often popped up in his own articles. In a football story, for example, he wrote of a touchdown scored by "the lightning fast Hemingway. …