“The Killers” is a short story by Ernest Hemingway, first published 1927. Dorthy Parker goes on record as declaring “The Killers” the best short story of 1929. This surprises me at first, but I need reminding: “The Killers” did something brand new, something we’ve since seen in stories such as:
- Various Quentin Tarantino movies
- The gas station scene in No Country For Old Men
- The Godfather
- The Sopranos
- In a related way, the opening sequence of Mohawk by Richard Russo
That is, Hemingway took gangsters out of what regular people consider their natural environment — or murdering, torturing, drug dealing, money laundering etc. and placed them in the down-to-earth, domestic environment of a cafe. Readers hadn’t really realised, until this point, that gangsters need to eat, too. Gangsters rub up against ordinary people on a daily basis. And what happens when they do?