In his memoir A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway famously explains that he would overcome obstacles in his writing by telling himself, "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." Drawing from interviews on their One True Podcast, host Mark Cirino and producer Michael Von Cannon bring readers One True Sentence: Writers & Readers on Hemingway's Art, a collection of brief interviews with well-known writers, actors and Hemingway scholars, including Valerie Hemingway, Elizabeth Strout, Russell Banks, A. Scott Berg and Pam Houston. Each exchange focuses on a sentence (sometimes two or three) that might be called "one true sentence," uncovering various perspectives on Hemingway's art and craft.
Though ideal readers of this collection would be deeply familiar with Hemingway's work, it can be enjoyed by casual students of American literature. It tackles issues of humanity, pain and love as easily as it addresses more writerly aspects, such as style, structure and word choice. But these writerly elements stand out. In one instance, novelist Joshua Ferris discusses the last line of The Sun Also Rises and admits his aspiration to the kind of efficiency Hemingway was known for: "How to give less so that the reader gets more. Which was always Hemingway's genius." This collection, through the varied interpretations of "one true sentence," highlights some misconceptions about Hemingway's writing, while always insisting on his genius. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian