Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My old friend Ernie

Funny, but reading Hemingway seems like spending a few minutes with an old friend.

I guess I've always admired the bastard because he lived life to its full extreme -- loving every woman, drinking every glass of wine, running with the bulls, hooking the biggest marlin, forever in search of the one, true sentence. He was brilliant, possessing such talent; but he was also volatile, manic depressive, perhaps even insane during those last, tragic days in Idaho.

I'd love to have enjoyed drinks and conversation with him during his prime. He must have been one hell of a guy.

Tonight I'm sitting by the fire reading Michael Reynolds' biography of Papa Ernie's last days. Picked it up at the Halls Library this afternoon. Its opening pages remind me that I've yet to read "For Whom the Bell Tolls," the novel many consider to be his best. (Although I fail to see how it can surpass either "The Sun Also Rises" or "A Farewell to Arms." You never know, though -- good literature is like that.)

Reynolds is describing the high that Hem felt just during and after the publication of his Spanish Civil War love story. It's both amusing and poignant that Hemingway always said that a part of him died whenever he'd finish a piece of work. It was, you see, a story that would never again be told.

I don't know why his stories have fallen out of fashion. Oh, I have a guess or two. Probably it has something to do with political correctness as well as the cyclical nature of these things -- Hemingway was so popular for so long, it later became fashionable to rip him and his work to shreds. (Others accuse him of being a misogynist; I think he's simply a man of his times who never quite became comfortable around women.)

But, what do I know? I'm just a fan who came across his work 30 years after his death. That's the way it is, though, with Ernest Hemingway. At the end of the day, when you're enjoying his words by the fire, he seems ever so much like an old friend.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever

Ernest Hemingway - Idaho - 1939

10:27 PM  

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