Friday, November 17, 2006

The Killers - Ernest Hemingway

The Killers is the closest Hemingway (pictured left) ever came to writing a mystery.

Written in 1923 but first published in 1927, this short story is a gritty tale of gangsters which has been credited with inspiring the "tough" school of crime writing, which burst onto the literary scene from 1926 onwards.

The story opens with two gangsters walking into a diner. They're looking for Ole Andreson, a retired heavyweight prize fighter, who they plan to kill "to oblige a friend". They take over the diner, tying up the cook and customer Nick Adams, and settle down to wait for Andreson to arrive.

When the gangsters realise Andreson isn't going to appear for his usual 6 o'clock dinner, they leave. Nick takes the towel that has been stuffed in his mouth out, and walks to a nearby rooming-house where Andreson is staying. When he arrives Andreson is lying on his bed, staring at the wall. He warns Andreson, who is so sunken in self pity or apathy that he doesn't care. When Nick leaves Andreson is still staring at the wall, just "waiting... and knowing he's going to get it."

I enjoyed this story. It was my first Hemingway experience and I now plan on locating a copy of In Our Time, a 1925 collection of stories which mainly feature Nick Adams, presumably the same character from The Killers.

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