One True Sentence:

Writers & Readers on Hemingway’s Art

“A revelatory compendium.”Publishers Weekly

“A valuable take on a canonical writer.” Kirkus Reviews


A selection of the greatest sentences by the master, Ernest Hemingway. Sentences that can take a reader’s breath away and are not easily forgotten. Each sentence has been selected and examined by authors such as Elizabeth Strout, Sherman Alexie, Paula McLain, and Russell Banks, scholars such as
Paul Hendrickson, Seán Hemingway, and A. Scott Berg, and many others in this celebration and conversation between Hemingway and some of his most perceptive and interesting readers.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence,” Hemingway wrote in his memoir, A Moveable Feast. “Write the truest sentence that you know.” If that is the secret to Hemingway’s enduring power, what sentences continue to live in readers’ minds? And why do they resonant? The host and producer of the One True Podcast have gathered the best of their program (heard by thousands of listeners) and added entirely new material for this collection of conversations about Hemingway’s truest words.

From the long, whole-story-in-a-sentence line—“I have seen the one legged street walker who works the Boulevard Madeleine between the Rue Cambon and Bernheim Jeune’s limping along the pavement through the crowd on a rainy night with a beefy red-faced Episcopal clergyman holding an umbrella over her.”—to the short, pithy line that closes The Sun Also Rises—“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”—this is a collection full of delights, surprises, and insight.

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened,” wrote Hemingway. “And after you’re finished reading one, you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards, it all belongs to you.” For readers of American literature, One True Sentence is full of remembrances—of words you read and the feelings they gave you. For writers, this is an inspiring view of an element of craft—a single sentence—that can make a good story come alive and become a great story.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“A revelatory compendium . . . a rewarding tapestry . . .  readers are likely to come away with a deepened understanding of—and even awe at—Hemingway’s vast talent.”
Publishers Weekly

“An enjoyable exploration of how Hemingway’s influence on American literature continues to be significant. A valuable take on a canonical writer, highlighting how good work stands the test of time.”
Kirkus Reviews

Mark Cirino is the host of One True Podcast. He is the author/editor of six books about Ernest Hemingway and serves as the general editor for Kent State University Press’s “Reading Hemingway” series. He served as the literature consultant on the forthcoming cinematic adaptation of Hemingway’s Across the River and into the Trees. Cirino teaches American literature at the University of Evansville.

Michael Von Cannon is the producer of One True Podcast. He serves as an advisory editor on the multi-volume Hemingway Letters Project and is currently working on the forthcoming The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: 1957-1961 (Cambridge University Press). He has published extensively on Hemingway’s relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Von Cannon teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for over forty years. His films have won sixteen Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations, and in September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Ken was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.