Hemingway vs. Bradbury

I mentioned in a previous post that I had a goal of finishing both The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway and Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales over the course of the year by reading at least two stories from each per week. So far I’ve read ten from Hemingway and eleven from Bradbury, so I’m ahead of my goal.

I’m not totally inexperienced with either of these writers, though I’ll admit to not having investigated their work as much as I should have. Before this year, I had read Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, a handful of his short stories, and Ernest Hemingway On Writing, a book published posthumously collecting a bunch of quotes about writing he made over the course of his career. For Ray, it was Fahrenheit 451 (an inevitable favorite, as I’m a huge dystopian fan AND a huge book fan, so there you go) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (in which I was a little disappointed, I’m afraid).

The title of this post is “Hemingway vs. Bradbury.” Of course it really isn’t fair to pit the writers against one another, but of course going into a book you can’t help but have certain expectations. And one of those expectations I had was that Hemingway’s stories would be “better” literature than Bradbury’s, while Bradbury’s would be more fun to read. I was wrong (about the first assumption).

Hemingway is a master at inner conflict, human nature (emphasis on the man), and epiphany, of course, but none of his stories have floored me yet like Bradbury’s. “Lafayette, Farewell” and “The Rocket” nearly brought me to tears (okay okay, “The Rocket” really did bring me to tears…). Of course, to be great, a story has to do more than engage your emotions in some way, but it should do at least that, and while Hemingway’s whole shtick is melancholy and beautiful prose, Bradbury’s got ’em both in spades, as well as joy and the fantastical, whimsy and humanity. No disrespect to Papa, either, because he certainly deserves it. But I definitely went into Bradbury with my expectations inappropriately low. He’s amazing.

5 thoughts on “Hemingway vs. Bradbury

  1. I agree with you on your comparison. That’s not to say Hemingway doesn’t measure up, he just is for a different crowd. One thing that Ray Bradbury did, besides write excellent stories was to share the love with a lot of people. The love of good writing and the encouragement of so many writers. Another of my favorites, the GREAT Richard Matheson was encouraged by Bradbury. Hemingway took a leg up from F. Scott Fitzgerald, but then took opportunity to put him down when he could. However, as far as the ultra-manly big testicle stories that are strong and to the point, it’s hard to beat Hemingway. Bradbury can fool you with a tale that doesn’t seem all that complex until the ending when he blows you away.

    • Yeah, as much as I love his writing, Hemingway really was a jerk. I read a really great biography of him, Hemingway’s Boat, by Paul Hendrickson.
      I can’t believe I haven’t read more of Bradbury. Making it right. It’s unbelievable the amount of work he produced. That this book of 100 is only about one sixth of his total short stories and the complete short fiction of Hemingway is only 70something…mind blowing.

  2. Another Bradbury book which is a tribute to him by various excellent authors is “Shadow Show” and it is a real humdinger that I highly recommend! I think you would very much enjoy reading it. A lot of big names showing their love and Bradbury’s influence on them. Has nice short intros/outros by the writers that are cool. Robert McCammon’s story is hauntingly beautiful and there is a variation of The Illustrated Man that I am fascinated with! Good Reading my friend!

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