Friday, April 18, 2008
Review: Papa Hemingway by A.E. Hotchner
In Papa Hemingway (1966), Hotchner emulates Hemingway's clear reportage as he covers his years (1948-61) as Hemingway's buddy. He reveals all of Hemingway's quirks and thus gives us a taste of what it might have been like to know the guy if you hung out with in him in cars, bars, restaurants, and at bullfights. Seems Hemingway could hold crowds spellbound with his stories, both oral and written. Until his health went south, the man could hold his liquor too. I particularly loved the stories of Hemingway communicating with bears, and the story of how Hemingway became a Catholic—after answered prayer for a sexual dysfunction. Also I found it interesting to learn about Hemingway’s close friendship with Gary Cooper. He did everything with gusto until he couldn’t anymore. This book shows that Hemingway might have written more (and even better) had he not become a celebrity. Much of the later half of his life was spent fending off reporters and guests. Not many had the sense of courtesy to stay away when asked to do so. Hotchner reveals to us the painful last days as well. Hemingway, being as resourceful and forceful as he was by nature, was extra tough to handle with his paranoia and suicidal tendencies. The man tried to off himself by jumping out of an airplane in mid-flight. All in all, I was fascinated by this insider's view on the writer's life. Made me feel like I knew Papa Hemingway in the flesh.