Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Papa's last summer


They are running with the bulls this week in Pamplona. Which, of course, always makes me think of my favorite writer.

Spent a rather quiet evening at home last night after working out and enjoying dinner at Calhoun's. The Braves were playing on the West Coast and the Tigers were off, so I eased back in the recliner and continued reading A.E. Hotchner's superb memoir of Hemingway's twilight years, "Papa Hemingway."

It's an engaging story, seeing the famed author "behind the scenes," figuratively watching his eyes light up over good wine, bullfights, friends, African safaris and solitude in Cuba. But, it's a sad tale, too.

Hemingway lost something after receiving the Nobel Prize in 1954. He continued to write, but never published another novel during his lifetime. Pain from various accidents suffered during the '50s all but incapacitated him.

I drifted off to sleep just as Hotchner was describing Hem's last true, enjoyable summer -- 1959, the bullfighting trip that was eventually chronicled in the posthumously published "The Dangerous Summer."

Was kinda glad I stopped there. I don't want to read what's coming -- the final summer in Ketchum, Idaho; the shock treatments; the enveloping depression; the suicide.

No, I prefer to think Hemingway is still writing early in the morning in the upstairs bedroom office of his beloved finca in Cuba. Or he's sipping on fine wine somewhere in Paris. Or he's enjoying the year's best matador at the bullfights in Spain during the fiesta.

He will forever live on through his words, but I just wish he'd have lived to be an old man.

Sobering thoughts for a would be writer on a muggy Tuesday morning.

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