Homage To Switzerland by Ernest Hemingway, 1933
The magic trick:
Not only making nothing happen in one story; making nothing happen in three stories
I kid, of course, about the magic trick in the header. Mostly kidding, anyway. It is true though that this is an especially Hemingway kind of story. It begins with an American treating a Swiss waitress poorly while he waits for a train. It continues in much the same manner with Hemingway presenting a total of three vignettes. They are really just three separate, but similar, conversations. It’s as if he’s bored and simply playing with the form here. Is there a consistent theme running through these scenes? A larger point? I’m not sure. Maybe something about Americans in the interwar years being soulless creeps? In any case, it’s an interesting way to construct a story, even if there isn’t much story here in the traditional sense of the word. And that’s quite a trick on Hemingway’s part.
“Fraulein,” he called. The waitress came over.
“What would you like, sir?”
“You,” he said.
“You must not joke like that.”
“I’m not joking.”
“Then you must not say it.”
“I haven’t time to argue,” Mr. Wheeler said. “The train comes in forty minutes. If you’ll go upstairs with me I’ll give you a hundred francs.”