A Visit From Saint Nicholas (In The Ernest Hemingway Manner) by James Thurber, 1927
The magic trick:
The art of parody
This is like the 1920s literary equivalent of a Weird Al parody. Or maybe a late-night gag. An SNL sketch. In short, it’s very funny. Thurber clearly is having a lot of fun sending up Hemingway and his bare-bones style. No room for flowery description. No room for playfulness. It makes me laugh. And that’s quite a trick on Thurber’s part.
Sidenote: It’s so funny to see how much this reads like a Raymond Carver story – further illustrating that while he had his own distinctive themes and tones, Carver so often is really just a slightly tweaked Hemingway. In my opinion, anyway.
Out on the lawn a clatter arose. I got out of bed and went to the window. I opened the shutters; then I threw up the sash. The moon shone on the snow. The moon gave the lustre of mid-day to objects in the snow. There was a miniature sleigh in the snow, and eight tiny reindeer. A little man was driving them. He was lively and quick. He whistled and shouted at the reindeer and called them by their names. Their names were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen.
He told them to dash away to the top of the porch, and then he told them to dash away to the top of the wall. They did. The sleigh was full of toys.
“Who is it?” mamma asked.
“Some guy,” I said. “A little guy.”
That is one funny story, especially with the fact that Thurber is doing Hemingway. The dialogue made me laugh. I don’t know how writers do it, but Thurber makes you think writing is so easy. I read that and thought, “I could get published in The New Yorker–no problem.” But it’s not that easy. It’s easier to see Santa probably. Oh well. Merry Christmas!