It is claimed Ernest Hemingway once wrote a six-word short story that could make people cry for a bet. The wager was ten dollars, which Hemingway won with the following: "For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn." However, there's no hard evidence that this ever happened...
...Here’s how Mr. Hemingway described the author’s role in his Nobel Prize winning speech in 1954: "Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."
I'm sure Dave is well aware of this anecdote. I'm just wondering what were/are thoughts on the story itself, the question of its validity, AND the quote discussing authors lives. Could you forward this to him?
Cerebus #251 (February 2000)
Art by Dave Sim & GerhardEDDIE KHANNA:
Hey Tim. I remember hearing about that anecdote. Wired magazine got a lot of authors (including Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Stan Lee (insert joke about the 'Marvel Method') to do their own version (of the long list, I think I like Alan's the best)
Not sure what Dave would make of it, but my first instinct was to laugh, since I recalled Dave's notes in "To Ham and Ham Not" in the back of Form & Void where he said that Hemingway was trying to come up with a way to create more by doing less, and basically just type type typing. What better way to do that than to basically write classified ads (albeit very clever ones)?
I'm kind of surprised it moved Arthur C. Clarke to tears, but I guess that ties in with the old idea of "an infinite number of drunk typists type type typing away 6 word short stories as an expression of primitivism will sooner rather than later come up with something that will make the creator of 2001: A Space Odyssey and that scene with all the apes at the beginning cry."
Ahhh, I shouldn't be cruel; Hemingway DID write The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, which I thought was very good. It's just too bad they didn't know about fractal mathematical equations back then; otherwise he could have just used one of those as the world's shortest "choose your own adventure" story generator by having people plug in their own numbers.
Hemingway's speech about what it takes to be writer sounds like good advice to me; I'm just not enough of a Hemingway scholar to know for sure how much of it he actually followed it himself. My guess would be, probably not very much.
Hey maybe you could post that email as an Aardvark Comment, or with excerpts from the Wired article as an AMOC blog post? And if Dave has any inclination or time, he could respond to it if he wishes?
(from Wired Magazine, November 2006)
We'll be brief: Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves. Dozens of our favorite auteurs put their words to paper, and five master graphic designers took them to the drawing board. Sure, Arthur C. Clarke refused to trim his ("God said, 'Cancel Program GENESIS.' The universe ceased to exist."), but the rest are concise masterpieces.
Automobile warranty expires. So does engine.
- Stan Lee
Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
- Alan Moore
With bloody hands, I say good-bye.
- Frank Miller
I’m dead. I’ve missed you. Kiss … ?
- Neil Gaiman
“I couldn’t believe she’d shoot me.”
- Howard Chaykin
Broken heart, 45, WLTM disabled man.
- Mark Millar