Joyce Carol Oates on What Hemingway’s Early Stories Can Teach Us About Writing and the Defining Quality of Great Art
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