The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 13, No. 4


by Stuart Dybek

In grad school I read an essay, I don’t recall by whom, about waiting in Hemingway. There’s that couple at the station in “Hills Like White Elephants,” waiting for the express from Barcelona, and “A Day’s Wait,” a very short story about a little boy with a fever who is waiting to die. It’s a situation to which Hemingway repeatedly returns, as in the considerably longer “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” where a man with a gangrened leg awaits death while recalling his youth in Paris; nor is he waiting alone—the hyenas and vultures are waiting, too. In other stories the men are alone, waiting out the night: Nick Adams in “A Way You’ll Never Be”; Mr. Frazer in “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio,” listening to a hospital radio that plays only at night—a clever touch—as he waits out the pain of his fractured leg. They are all wounded in one way or another.

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