Month: December 2012

Keeping it upKeeping it up

“I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day.  That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything, I hoped; learning, I hoped; and I would read so that I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to do it.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

The orange peel methodThe orange peel method

“I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next.  That way I could be sure of going on the next day.  But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made.  I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry.  You have always written before and you will write now.  All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.’  So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.  It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.  If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Good God, GoreGood God, Gore

“Maybe there is no good God. But there is definitely a devil, and his predominant passion is the religion of those Protestant fundamentalists. I believe my country is beginning to resemble a theocracy. Using television, the evangelists raise appalling amounts of money which they then invest in the election of mentally disabled obscurantists.” – Gore Vidal (quoted by Lila Azam Zanganeh in “The End of Gore Vidal”)

Are there not many fascists in your country?Are there not many fascists in your country?

The three were at the table now and the others sat close by except Pablo, who sat by himself in front of a bowl of the wine.  It was the same stew as the night before and Robert Jordan ate it hungrily.

“In your country there are mountains?  With that name [Montana] surely there are mountains,” Primitivo asked politely to make conversation.  He was embarrassed at the drunkenness of Pablo.

“Many mountains and very high.”

“And are there good pastures?”

“Excellent; high pasture in the summer in forests controlled by the government.  Then in the fall the cattle are brought down to the lower ranges.”

“Is the land there owned by the peasants?”

“Most land is owned by those who farm it.  Originally the land was owned by the state and by living on it and declaring the intention of improving it, a man could obtain title to a hundred and fifty hectares.”

“Tell me how this is done,” Agustín asked.  “That is an agrarian reform which means something.”

Robert Jordan explained the process of homesteading.  He had never thought of it before as an agrarian reform.

“That is magnificent,” Primitivo said.  “Then you have a communism in your country?”

“No.  That is done under the Republic.”

“For me,” Agustín said, “everything can be done under the Republic.  I see no need for other form of government.”

“Do you have no big proprietors?” Andrés asked.


“Then there must be abuses.”

“Certainly.  There are many abuses.”

“But you will do away with them?”

“We try to more and more.  But there are many abuses still.”

“But there are not great estates that must be broken up?”

“Yes.  But there are those who believe that taxes will break them up.”


Robert Jordan, wiping out the stew bowl with bread, explained how the income tax and inheritance tax worked.  “But the big estates remain.  Also there are taxes on the land,” he said.

“But surely the big proprietors and the rich will make a revolution against such taxes.  Such taxes appear to me to be revolutionary.  They will revolt against the government when they see that they are threatened, exactly as the fascists have done here,” Primitivo said.

“It is possible.”

“Then you will have to fight in your country as we fight here.”

“Yes, we will have to fight.”

“But are there not many fascists in your country?”

“There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.”

“But you cannot destroy them until they rebel?”

“No,” Robert Jordan said.  “We cannot destroy them.  But we can educate the people so that they will fear fascism and recognize it as it appears and combat it.”

— Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Road RaveRoad Rave

“Road Rave” was published three months ago by Fox Chase Review.  You can read it there at, or you can glance slightly to your right on your screen and see that I have added it to the “Previously Published Stories” sidebar here.  Discerning readers may note that it is not placed in alphabetical order among the other stories.  That is likely to change, but not today.

The plight of bookish folkThe plight of bookish folk

“We have been there in the books and out of the books—and where we go, if we are any good, there you can go as we have been.  A country, finally, erodes and the dust blows away, the people all die and none of them were of any importance permanently, except those who practised the arts, and these now wish to cease their work because it is too lonely, too hard to do, and is not fashionable.  People do not want to do it any more because they will be out of fashion and the lice who crawl on literature will not praise them.  Also it is very hard to do.  So what?” – Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa