Among the things that were not lost when Hurricane Irma hit Southern Florida last month was a recently found short by Earnest Hemingway that likely includes one of the first pieces of fiction that Hemingway ever wrote. From the New York Times:
Hemingway’s travelogue through Ireland and Scotland was written as letters to his parents and what seem to be diary entries, so it didn’t seem significant. It was only when Ms. Spanier visited Mr. Chamberlin in May that they realized Hemingway never made this trip, as a child or as an adult. It was then that the full weight of the discovery hit them. “Oh my God, I thought, this is quite something. This is Hemingway’s first attempt at fiction,” Mr. Chamberlin recalled thinking.
In one section of the notebook, young Hemingway tells the story of a dead man who returns once a year to rebuild Ross Castle in Ireland, and host a nighttime feast. “When daylight comes the castle falls in ruins and O’Donahue returns to his grave,” wrote Hemingway in a spidery scrawl.
Although Hemingway’s penmanship wouldn’t improve much, his writing would. The story foreshadows the writer to be, not only in terms of Hemingway’s economy of language and use of landscape, but also in his mixing of reportage with fiction. This is a technique Hemingway would employ throughout his career to inject realism into his stories, to ground them with gravity of facts and experience.