70 Days With Hemingway And Me

Every Novel, Back to Back, Starting With the First

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See Ya Around, Ernest. It’s Been Fun.

August 19th, 2009 · Good Bye Ernest

The MasterMy 70 Days With Hemingway And Me are over.

Ernest and I had a grand time together. He regaled me with countless tales (10 novels worth in fact) that covered a wide variety of subjects. If I had to condense everything I gleaned from him – condensation being the sincerest form of flattery in this case – I would do so in this fashion:

War is hell
Life is fleeting
Absinthe is numbing
Love is illusion
Bullfighting is crass
Paris is hedonistic
Writing is observation
Fishing is manly
Hunting is manlier
Fighting is manliest
Journalism is noble
Michigan is home
Sun is rising
Bell is tolling
Having is not

And, perhaps the most important of all:

Life is for living. So live it well, when and how you can.

Then write about it and make a fortune.

Just don’t move to Idaho.

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The Islands Upstage The Characters

August 19th, 2009 · Islands in the Stream (Movie)

Islands in the Stream DVDNot even the sizable talents of George C. Scott can elevate Islands In the Stream from its place among the worst of the Hemingway movie adaptations.

There’s an interesting parallel between this movie and an earlier Hemingway adaptation, To Have And Have Not: A boat captain with a rummy first-mate named Eddie. (Spelled “Eddy” in Islands and “Eddie” in To Have.)

In both movies the captain tells the rummy to stay behind while he heads out to sea. In both movies, Eddie stows away and makes an appearance after the ship is well underway.

That’s a strange coincidence. Either that really happened in Hemingway’s life, or he [Read more →]

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Cooper and Bergman Toll For Me

August 18th, 2009 · For Whom the Bell Tolls (Movie)

For Whom the Bell Tolls DVD Finally!

After sitting through a string of lousy adaptations of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, I found one that lives up to the author’s lofty literary standards: For Whom the Bell Tolls, the 1943 movie that stars Gary Cooper (Robert Jordan), Ingrid Bergman (Maria), Akim Tamiroff (Pablo), and Katina Paxinou (Pilar). Paxinou won an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress) for her roll.

At 170 minutes, this movie – set against the Spanish Civil War – isn’t for the faint of heart. Even with an intermission half-way through.

The first half (which covers Hemingway’s novel through page 240) was slow and hard to follow. A lot of dialog, much of it spoken quickly, all of it accented, makes for a cinematic slog. The second half (which covers the book’s remaining 258 pages) is where the fighting begins and the film’s pace increases.

All of Hemingway’s familiar topics are here – death, war, absinthe, lost love, war, futility, heroism, war, an American ex-pat. Oh, and did I mention war, death, absinthe, and more war?

It is a joy to watch Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman on screen. They, alone, make the movie worthwhile. Veteran actors Tamiroff and Paxinou are the icing on the cake. But this is Coop’s and Bergman’s show. Their love story provides the one element of hope in the lives of this rag-tag group of mountain-dwelling freedom fighters.

However, you need to remember that this is a Hemingway novel. So don’t expect a happy ending.

Still, if you have three hours to spare, and have the patience to let the movie grow on you, you could do a lot worse than For Whom the Bell Tolls.

On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this an 8.

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The Last Hemingway Book – True!

August 12th, 2009 · True At First Light

True At First Light Okay, I sneaked a peek at the first paragraph of the Wiki entry for the last Hemingway novel published posthumously, True At First Light. Here’s what it says:

True at First Light is a work by American novelist Ernest Hemingway released posthumously in 1999. It is designated a “fictional memoir” and describes a journey to Africa. It was edited by Patrick Hemingway who accompanied his father.

A “fictional memoir”? Huh? What’s the point of a fictional memoir?

There’s an author’s note that begins the book:

In Africa a thing is true at first light and a lie by noon and you have no more respect for it than for the lovely weed-fringed lake you see across the sun-baked salt plain. You have walked that plain in the morning and you know that no such lake is there. But now it is there absolutely true, beautiful and believable.

Okay. So this book is like a mirage? It’s not really there? It didn’t really happen?


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Ernie Envy And The Dichotomy Of The Hemingway Style

August 8th, 2009 · Ernie Envy

The Man at Work I’m a writer.

At least, I think I am.

I mean, I haven’t seen, heard, or smelled a bullfight…experienced, first-hand, the horrors of war…lived in Cuba…caroused in a quaint Italian village…or consumed my weight in absinthe.

While I’m at it, I also haven’t hobnobbed with the literati in Paris…watched the sun rise in Spain…or won a Pulitzer Prize (much less a Nobel Prize).

So what kind of writer could I possibly be?

As the old saying goes, writers write. And, as the old saying goes further, [Read more →]

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In The Beginning Was…

August 5th, 2009 · The Garden of Eden

A Garden of Eden According to its entry on Wiki,

The Garden of Eden is the second posthumously released novel of Ernest Hemingway, published in 1986. Begun in 1946, Hemingway worked on the manuscript for the next 15 years, during which time he also wrote The Old Man and the Sea, The Dangerous Summer, A Moveable Feast, and Islands in the Stream.

That’s all I know about the book. I didn’t even read on in Wiki to learn what it was about. I want to find out for myself.

When I’m done reading all of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, I may delve into the reviews, histories, critiques, and opinions from the Hemingway authorities. It’ll be fun to see how my opinions or observations stack up against those of others who have spent their lifetimes studying Hemingway’s style. For now, however, I just want to continue my journey, which is (sadly) nearing its end.

For now, though, I intend to wander into Ernest’s garden to discover what he has to say about life there.

If I know Ernie, it’s anything but paradise.

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As Close To The Book As Any Movie Ever Was

August 4th, 2009 · The Old Man and the Sea (Movie)

As a movie The Old Man and the Sea, the 1958 film starring Spencer Tracy, is only a notch above a TV movie of the week. As an adaptation, however, it is one of the finest I’ve ever seen — if what you wanted to see was a movie made as close to a book as possible. After suffering through a few putrid Hemingway movie adaptations, that’s exactly what I wanted.

Or so I thought. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. You just may get it.

I’d say 75% of this movie was lifted, word for word, from the book. Especially the narration.

Therein lies the movie’s charm, as well as its [Read more →]

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Thomas Hudson Has A Lot of Hard-Drinking Friends

August 4th, 2009 · Islands in the Stream

I don’t know what to make of Islands In the Stream, the first of three books published after Ernest Hemingway died. I know this much:

1. The protagonist is Thomas Hudson, whom Hemingway introduces early (in the second paragraph) — unlike his style in all previous books where the protagonist’s name is withheld from the reader until much later on — and he is always referred to as Thomas Hudson. Both names. No Tom. No Thomas. Always Thomas Hudson.

2. Thomas Hudson is “a good painter” who lived in a house “built on [Read more →]

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Ready To Visit The Islands

July 29th, 2009 · Islands in the Stream, Islands in the Stream (Movie)

Islands in the Stream Islands in the Stream, published in 1970 (nine years after Hemingway’s death) was the first of Hemingway’s novels to be published posthumously. I am always highly suspect of anything published after the demise of its creator. But my mind is open. I’m eager to discover this book’s treasures.

I know nothing about Islands in the Stream (I didn’t even read the Wiki entry about it) other than it was also a 1977 movie starring George C. Scott.

Let the journey begin.

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“It Was Too Good to Last,” He Thought.

July 28th, 2009 · The Old Man and the Sea, The Old Man and the Sea (Audio Book)

The Old Man and the Sea Audio Book Hemingway’s amazing novel The Old Man and the Sea reads better than even actor Charlton Heston can read it aloud – he, with one of the most amazing voices of all time. He doesn’t read it as well as I hear it in my head.

And that’s a good thing. It means Hemingway’s novel needs nothing else to bring it to life. It is just fine as it stands.

Frankly, just between you and me (whoever “you” are), I think The Old Man and the Sea is a perfect book. Perfect in every conceivable way. When I got to the last line of the book, I remarked to my wife, “I can’t believe a human being wrote this.”

Charlton Heston’s audiobook version adds nothing to the novel and, as a matter of fact, [Read more →]

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