Had been reading this since visiting America in April 2006 so it took me almost two years to finish this huge collection. This is more than partly due to the uneven level of quality. The first two thirds of the collection contain the best stories, such as the popular "The snows of Kilimanjaro", "The short happy life of Francis Macomber", "Hills like white elephants" and "A clean, well-lighted place". They aren't popular for nothing and therefore this part reads like a rollercoaster. The second part is why the book has "collected" in its title and comprises the rest of Hemingway's short fiction, as well as some discarded fragments of novels. Although these stories are mostly of good quality, after hundreds of earlier pages you get a little tired of them in the end.
So, with that said, I recommend this book strongly to anyone who's already familiar with Hemingway's novels or has an interest in innovative short fiction. Focus on the first part - containing personal favourites "Indian camp", "Cat in the rain" and "Big two-hearted river Part One + Two" - but don't ignore the second part because that also contains "Nobody ever dies", "The last good country" and the excellent "Black ass at the crossroads". I know I'll be coming back to these stories in the future.
13 January 2008
Originally published 1987