Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ernest Hemingway, Kansas City Star Reporter: 'The Best Rules I Ever Learned For The Business Of Writing'

Jim Fisher, a columnist for the Kansas City Star, offers a piece on the Star's most famous reporter, Ernest Hemingway.

In 1915, the sinking of the Lusitania received exceptional play in The Kansas City Star. A two-column headline announced the tragedy, the first of many in the next few years. The European powers plunged deeper into war, drawing the United States inexorably toward the trenches, which already snaked across the fields of eastern France.

Yet the war, in its first years, seemed distant in Kansas City. The Star supplied readers twice a day with details of the expanding conflict, but, on the whole, it still emphasized local news. Reporters, as they would for the next 60 years, bent over their typewriters, which then were attached to oaken tables in the cavernous city room. The staff rotated as The Star finished its run and the night staff of “The Morning Kansas City Star,” The Times, came to work. Almost to a man, the reporters wore caps and hats. Celluloid collars pinched their necks.

But change was in the air. And into the midst of The Star staff, in late 1917, came a youth who, when he could get away with it, wore a red and black checkered hunting shirt to work. Old timers frowned on such dress. But the young reporter worked outside the office most of the time. His name was Ernest Hemingway.

Years later scholars would come to Kansas City to investigate Hemingway’s tenure at The Star, which lasted from October 1917 to April 1918. This period fascinated Hemingway students because his lean, spare writing style, basically “Star Style,” led him to become one of the most acclaimed writers of the 20th century, winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature and a legend as a man, warrior, womanizer and drinker.

You can read therest of the piece via the below link:


  1. Thanks for highlighting the book. I will be digging into this one quite a bit more. There is no other author with whom I have a more pronounced love-hate relationship: I love most of his writing, but I rather hate most of the man's lifestyle and his behaviors.

    I reviewed a book for America magazine: The Breaking Point by Stephen Koch. If you want to read an eye-opener about his betrayal of friends when he suited his selfish purposes, that is the book you should read. I came away from the book loathing Hemingway the man but still admiring his writing. If you are interested in Hemingway, check out my review (retrievable through America magazine online) and then check out Koch's book.

  2. Paul, here is a link to the review:

  3. R.T.,

    I read your fine review of "The Breaking Point."

    I've not read the book, but I've read nearly everything Hemingway has written, and a good bit of everything written about him. Hemingway is one of my favorite writers.

    I've read several biographies of Hemingway and they all cover the John Dos Passos /Hemingway friendship and their later feud.

    Hemingway was very competitive with other writers and Dos Passos had some success (although he is not as well known today as he ought to be). He also turned conservative after the Spanish Civil War and was critical of the Communists and leftists.

    Hemingway did not like this, although he too showed the horror of the Spanish Civil War and the atrocities of both sides in his great novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

    Hemingway, in my view, is one of our greatest writers and he is perhaps the most influential author of our age.

    A good number of today's writers claim him as a major influence (as do I).

    I can't defend his excessive behavior, but he drank a bit, and I believe he suffered from mental illness, like past and present members of the Hemingway "tribe."

    This illness led to his suicide. His father also committed suicide, as did he grandaughter.

    But despite his mental illness and the severe beating his body took from war injuries and two plane crashes, he was able to write great novels and even greater short stories (I love "The Killers" and "The Battler," just to name two).

    You can read my Crime Beat column, "Hemingway on Crime" via the link


  4. I am especially fond of _The Sun Also Rises_, "A Clean Well-Lighted Place," and "Hills Like White Elephants." I could name a few dozen other short stories as "favorites," but you get the idea: I very much like Hemingway's writing.

  5. "The Sun Also Rises" was my introduction to Hemingway when I was a teenager. I was hooked. I've been a Hemingway aficionado since then.

    I was thankful that I was able to travel through "Hemingway Country" in Europe - Italy, Spain and France - while I was stationed at the Holy Loch, Scotland submarine base when I was in the Navy in the mid-1970s.