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In the interest of pushing myself to experience new things, I'm reading a book of short stories by D.H. Lawrence, a writer whose style I just do not appreciate. What keeps occurring to me, as I plow through the characters' endless reflections on their own motives and dithering over what they want and what they should do and fearfulness and weakness and helplessness, along with the overwrought descriptions of the natural world and the ultra-sensitivity of young lovers (one young woman loses consciousness when her lover embraces her for the first time), is what an astonishing contrast there is between Lawrence and Hemingway.

They weren't exactly contemporaries -- Lawrence was born in 1885 and died early, in 1930, of tuberculosis. Hemingway was born in 1899 and lived until his suicide in 1961. So Lawrence had an opportunity to read some of Hemingway's early stories and his first novel, "The Sun Also Rises," and he did write a review of Hemingway's collection of stories, "In Our Time." Lawrence praises the stories, which he calls "sketches," as "short, sharp, vivid and most of them excellent," and makes clear that he hates them. That is unsurprising. Lawrence's stories are either long or they feel long, rambling and self-conscious. Almost everything in them happens internally and they are made up almost entirely of characters talking to themselves and reflecting upon the world or of jarring, unnatural descriptions of things, particularly of nature. Hemingway's descriptions are spare and his stories are mostly dialogue and action. They are short.

Anyway, Lawrence's stories are worth reading when you're in the mood for something sensuous and strange.

Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star. He may be reached at will@poststar.com and followed on his blog, I think not, and on Twitter at

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