Before studying minimalistic pieces of fiction, I did not read anything claiming to be minimalist; In fact, I avoided them. I thought that they were just a way for writers who were not good at writing detail to get something published. This post is my repentance of my sins against the genius that is minimalism.
Details are scarce in this piece by Hemingway, the characters bland, the language a bit too colloquial. I’ll admit, I didn’t get it. As it turns out, stamping the word “minimalist” on a piece of paper doesn’t mean that you’re bad at writing—it means just the opposite. By purposefully leaving out a lot of detail, the minimalist writer is telling his/her reader that the details that he/she does include are very important. This is what is known as the “Iceberg Theory” in which all you get from the story is the part of the block of glacial ice that is sticking out of the water, but the rest of it, the majority of it, is implied. In “Hill’s Like White Elephants,” the action and dialogue reveal what Hemingway doesn’t come out and say: the woman is pregnant and, because of the contrast between colors of objects throughout the entire piece, she is probably of a different race than the man in the story.
So we have a more dynamic story than two people having a couple of Anis del Toro’s while they wait for their train to come into the station. The reader has to do more work than usual, but it is a story about very interesting issues. I don’t know if it’s a style for me, but if you know what you’re doing then minimalism is definitely worth pursuing.