When I was a young writer many moons ago one of the first writers whose style I tried to imitate was Ernest Hemingway. That’s no surprise. I was just one of many young writers trying to learn the trade of writing fiction by imitating the style of Ernest Hemingway. I read everything of his I could get my hands on. I read his fiction and non-fiction and his journalism. I read books of criticism about his work. I read every biography on the self about him I could get my hands on. And now I have a new biography about Papa that I checked out of the Carnegie Library here in Oakland that I’ve been devouring the past few days. So, what’s left to say about Hemingway?
James M. Hutchisson the author of Ernest Hemingway, A New Life takes an original approach to understanding Hemingway’s life and work. Here’s an excerpt of what the inside flap of the book says about Mr. Hutchisson’s biography.
“This is an examination of the writer through a new lens—-one that more accurately captures Hemingway’s virtues as well as his flaws. Hutchisson situates Hemingway’s life and art in the defining contexts of the women he loved and lost, the places he held dear, and the specter of mental illness that haunted his family. This balanced portrait examines for the first time in full detail the legendary writer’s complex medical history and his struggle against clinical depression.”
The book is 292 pages long and I’m on page 207. Mr. Hutchisson has done his homework.
I also checked out from the library a special edition of Hemingway’s first full-length novel, The Sun Also Rises (Torrents of Spring was published before The Sun Also Rises but The Torrents of Spring is really a long novella).
The edition of The Sun Also Rises that I checked out of the library is supplemented at the end of the novel with early drafts and deleted chapters. You get to see how the sausage was made.
So far over the years I must have read The Sun Also Rises fifty times. I’m not kidding. I would finish the novel and immediately get lonely for the characters, locale, action and the wonderful clipped dialogue. Back then I would read the book three or four times a year.
So, right now I’m only at chapter three and my anticipation is building. Papa has me hooked again.
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