The Nick Adams Stories
By Ernest Hemingway

A Book Review by Larry P. Madden Nick Adams book cover

The Nick Adams Stories is a compilation of tales by world renowned author Ernest Hemingway. Nick Adams is one of Mr. Hemingway's prolific characters. His short stories cropped up here and there in Hemingway’s tales. Eleven years after his death in 1961, the Nick Adams Stories were assembled: an attempted chronological compilation of events in the stories led to this volume of Adams’ adventures.

Growing up in Illinois, Hemingway’s adventures of his youth were in the northern Michigan wilderness. Adams’ stories are set in the familiar settings of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Trout fishing, hunting, and interaction with the Ojibway are big parts of his life. Some surmise that Adams’ adventures parallel Hemingway’s youthful Michigan excursions. Outdoor wonderment, woodlore, and wordsmanship are big parts of this series of stories. A carefree and open style of life and love transpire with Adams’ dalliances with Ojibway and white girls alike. In a social time when Indians were somewhere between a curio and a lower life form, Adams has friendships with Indian and white alike. This social standing of how Indians were viewed as late as post-World War I to pre-Depression era is an interesting study.

The pristine Michigan landscape under the pen of Hemingway shows one how quickly things can change. Hemingway loved the pristine forests and cold water trout streams, mostly the simple woodsman life. Adams is happy to set a hook, make a lean-to, or dodge a game warden. World travel, war, and love all blend together to create a popular character and a good read. Adams’ loves and lusts parallel Hemingway’s; Adams dreams of writing and skiing the Alps and living an idyllic lifestyle. However, Adams would return to his Michigan wilds to pursue his nirvana. This combined with short chapters and adventures organized in a timeline presentation that makes easy reading.

Never having had a Hemingway experience prior to this book, combined with a very active outdoor past, I found this a fun and interesting read. The deep dark woods only traversed on Indian trails or boat harkens back to a time of national forest adventures of my own youth. This series of stories has prepped me for a shot at one of Hemingway's novels. A Nobel Prize winner and Pulitzer winner in the mid-fifties, Hemingway’s storytelling is as potent today as it was when it was first published.

Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. A recent graduate of CMN, he enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road.