Joyce Carol Oates on What Hemingway’s Early Stories Can Teach Us About Writing and the Defining Quality of Great Art
On the elusive gift of blending austerity of craft with elasticity of allure.
By Maria Popova
In a recent conversation at The New York Public Library’s excellent Books at Noon series, Oates discussed her journey of becoming a writer and counseled aspiring writers to read Hemingway — who himself had some memorable advice to young writers — not only in order to understand how to craft beautiful literature but also to understand how art, more broadly, enchants the human soul:
The early stories of Hemingway are very wonderful for young writers because they’re beautifully crafted, almost skeletal — there’s nothing extraneous in them. They look easy, and they’re not easy… When you read early Hemingway stories, you’re reading very fluidly — and when you’re all finished, you’re not sure what it means… It’s somewhat like a riddle, so you read it again.
And that’s, I think, what art is — art makes us go back to it a second or third time. It seems as if it’s accessible, but maybe it’s not so simple.
Published June 19, 2014