Summer’s Over and i have plans!

 

 

 

Me as Stevie Nicks at summer party with my puppy

Me as Stevie Nicks at summer party with my puppy

 

 

So it is fall and I am contemplative. I have been reading a lot of Hemingway lately and just finished the new book by Naomi Woods called Mrs. Hemingway, a well-researched novel/history of Hemingway’s four wives.  I liked it. It’s  a subject I’ve read much about and recommend Bernice Kert’s Book The Hemingway Women highly.

 

I am now enmeshed in my own novel about Hemingway. I finished it, it’s being edited as I write, and I’m taking it to a writer’s pitch conference at the end of September. I am hoping that someone loves it and wants to publish it. I am delaying the publication of my second book to see if this one can leap frog over book two.

 

For those of you reading this who also write, I know you can appreciate the anxiety that comes with the task. We all write because we have to. It clearly is not paying any bills. We write because we need to get the story, the history, the concept down. But then we bounce from thinking it is a fantastic book to thinking it is nothing, less than nothing, a waste of time.

 

My first novel is called Tell me When it Hurts. Most Amazon reviews have been very good but there are a few that were not. THOSE are somehow the ones you remember.  So you soul search. Could I have done a better job? Did that part lag?  Then you realize that 10% of readers of any book will not like it. It’s not their sort of book; they were in a bad patch; they don’t like your subject matter; they like sci fi but someone gave them your literary novel of 18th century love.  Still, it smarts.

 

So I am heading on Sept 25 to tough love in NYC and we’ll see what happens. Stay posted because if you love Hemingway, you may like my novel. More on title and next steps.

Thank you for reading. Love, Christine

Me, Pink, and Jimmy Buffet in my barn JULY 2014

Me, Pink, and Jimmy Buffet in my barn JULY 2014, Summer’s OVER!

More of How I spent my summer vacation

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

2014-06-16 07.55.16

More photos: Some repeat background. Forgive me! But much is new!

 

We had rented an apartment in the Marais district and it was perfect.  It had a security code to get into a beautiful flowered courtyard and then it was two flights up by foot.  The apartment itself was quaint, although modern, bright, and sunny.2014-06-15 08.45.46

 

Efficient use of space was inspiring and I took photos because I was very impressed at how comfortable it was despite its small footprint.  The neighborhood was very walkable.  If you are not familiar with the Marais district, it is full of narrow roads, two to three story buildings only, the old Jewish district, and boutiques that are open even on Sundays.  One street is closed to traffic and it has Jewish/Middle Eastern influence with gourmet falafel creation raised to a fine competitive art.2014-06-16 06.43.42

I would get up early each morning quite early, take a walk around several blocks, stop at a patisserie to get a fresh loaf of bread and croissants, and then buy cheeses at a nearby grocery.  It was wonderful to have coffee and breakfast right in the apartment.

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Paris, of course, has changed vastly since Hemingway’s days there.  Nevertheless, I walked through the areas that he walked through and saw what I could.  Shakespeare & Company is still there.  The cafes in Saint Germaine dePres may have different names, but they are similar.  Les Deux Magotz is still there on a busy corner.  I had fun pretending that I could see Hemingway sitting at a corner table, deep in thought, and writing the book that ultimately became The Sun Also Rises.  Alternatively, I could imagine him writing one of his reporting pieces that paid bills along with Hadley’s trust while he waited for his big break.2014-06-16 06.51.28

 

I walked along the Seine, up to Montmartre, and I saw the first apartment that he and Hadley shared.  Of course, we didn’t go in it since it’s occupied but I saw the neighborhood.

 

I was recently listening to some tapes that Alice Sokoloff made of her friend, Hadley Hemingway Mowrer.  All of these tapes ultimately became the book that Alice wrote about Hadley.  Hadley was describing in this particular conversation the bad neighborhood that she and Ernest had lived in, its unpleasant smell since they were near a lumberyard, and her loneliness in Paris initially. I’d never been aware of that loneliness prior to listening to the tape.  I had always had the impression that Hadley was happy in Paris from day one because Hemingway was happy.  In this tape, she described how difficult it was without knowing the language, and, given the fact that he was away during the day writing, she felt like an outsider who did not yet have friends.  She was quite homesick.  Gertrude stein rue

 

Ultimately, Hadley came to love Paris and willingly stayed there.  Even after she and Paul Mowrer moved back to Chicago, they ultimately returned to Paris for a few years after the war.  A Moveable Feast describes well the foods, the sights, and the smells in Paris in those early years.  It was my dream to go and see these places while knowing that they had all changed.  Paris truly exceeded my expectations in most every way.2014-06-15 06.44.43

 

Aside from the Hemingway connection, I found Paris to be the loveliest city I’ve ever been in.  I can’t wait to return.  I fell in love with it.  I did not meet one surly French person–and I was braced for it.  I speak a little bit of French but my vocabulary is so rusty that I struggled.  Still, everyone was simply wonderful; the food in the smallest cafés was terrific.  We weren’t eating in five-star restaurants, and although I had done some research and set up a few reservations, when we were delayed in taking off, I cancelled everything.  In any event, we felt very welcome in Paris and everyone we met was very friendly.  I would go back in a split second.2014-06-15 05.25.49

 

Merci, et bon soir, Monsieur Hemingway.

 

Paris: To find traces of Hemingway Part one

Cole Porter  Hem in Paris Paris 1927  2014-06-15 06.26.20     2014-06-17 05.34.58             I finally made it to Paris after a bit of drama in getting away.  Due to a family illness, the trip was touch and go as to whether or not we were going to get there at all. Emergency rooms, doctor appointments (not for me; I was packed and set to board that plane) but two days later, after a doctor cleared the trip, we arrived in Paris.

We had rented an apartment in the Marais district and it was perfect.  There were two flights of stairs to lug baggage up but it was not too tough and the climb was worth it. The apartment was both quaint and modern. It was bright and sunny with a wonderful galley kitchen. We marveled over the storage in the modest space. I immediately checked out the WIFI and it worked as if I were home in Connecticut. I’d brought my own hotspot anticipating a glitch but there was none.

The neighborhood was very walkable. Once outside our lovely garden courtyard, I strolled narrow streets, ducked into little hidden parks, heard a band playing in the street in the middle of the day. Better yet, couples took to the street dancing and an old lady danced solo up near the band. It was at that moment that after being in Paris one hour that I knew it would capture my soul.2014-06-15 09.18.50

It was just a few steps around the corner to a bakery with fresh baguettes and croissants. Cheese and supplies were handy from a nearby small grocery.

I launched my Hemingway search on day one. While, of course, Paris has changed vastly since Hemingway was there, but still there are some memorable spots that are not much changed.  Shakespeare & Company is still there minus Sylvia Beach. Les Deux Magots is still there, although it’s now a very busy corner.  I had fun pretending that Hemingway was sitting at a corner table, deep in thought and writing what ultimately became The Sun Also Rises or one of his reporting pieces that kept the family afloat while he waited for his big break.2014-06-16 06.43.42

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I walked the Hemingway walk along the Seine, up to Montmartre and saw the first apartment that he and Hadley shared.  Obviously it’s occupied but I saw where it was.  I was recently listening to some tapes that Alice Sokoloff had made of conversations with Hadley and which ultimately went into her book about Hadley.  Hadley described in this conversation the bad neighborhood that she and Hemingway lived in when they first arrived in Paris, the unpleasant smells from the nearby businesses, and her loneliness in Paris. I’d never been as aware of that fact prior to listening to the tape.  I had the impression that Hadley was happy in Paris because Hemingway was happy, but she described how difficult it was without knowing the language and given the fact that he was away during the day writing. She felt alone and an outsider.  She was very homesick.  She ultimately came to love Paris and willingly stayed there and even after moving back to Chicago with her second husband Paul Mowrer, she and Paul went back to live in Paris for a few years after the war.  A Moveable Feast describes well the foods, the sights, and the smells in Paris in those early years.  It was my dream to go and see these places while knowing they had changed, and it exceeded my expectation.Gertrude stein rue2014-06-16 06.51.28

 

Aside from the Hemingway connection, I found Paris to be the most lovely city I’ve ever been in and I can’t wait to go back.  I truly fell in love with it.  I did not meet one surly French person.  I speak a little French but far from well.  Still, everyone was simply wonderful; the food was terrific and we weren’t eating at five-star restaurants and I felt welcome and everyone we met was very friendly. I am obsessed with the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, the Love Lock Bridge, the Pont Neuf, the Rodin Museum. I would go back in a split second and I will. To Hemingway’s Paris, then and now.2014-06-15 06.44.43 Below: me at the Place des Voges.

 

Hemingway’s Seminal Novel issued with new Beginning

The Sun Also Rises did have a different beginning when Hemingway first wrote it. Apparently, Scott Fitzgerald suggested that Hemingway begin later in the story and crossed out the beginning Hem had slated for the novel. He followed that advice and the rest is history.

Or not. A new edition shows Hemingway’s original placement of paragraphs. For background, please see  Hemingway reworked.

Hemingway Places

Nice article about places to visit and feel Papa’s memories. I did not know that his usual seat at La Flordita in Havana was blocked off and a daiquiri placed on the counter daily near his statue. I have it on good authority that his favorite drink however was a mega-cold Martini. However, a daiquiri will do. Hem Places

The Best of Hemingway Novels

Hem at typewriter

Catherine and Frederic

Catherine and Frederic

I mentioned last post that I’ve been re-reading Hemingway’s novels. I finished A Farewell to Arms and Across the River and into the Woods. I found so much more to love in A Farewell to Arms than my first few times around. While Catherine is dated in her attitude and her fawning for love, she still was working, living on her own, and in love. Frederic goes from looking for a fun time so loving Catherine deeply. I loved the scenes with Rinaldi and when he calls Frederic “baby.”  Wonderful novel.

Across the River was not on the “best” list, At times, I found it hard to get through but it picked up in the end and I liked it but didn’t understand what The Colonel saw in Renata. She was young and beautiful but vapid and not even very spirited. However, Hemingway too was in love when writing it and Adriana, his prototype for Renata,was being seen through his eye. Still  not a favorite. I liked the sense of Venice but not too much else.

Venice nights

Venice nights

Read “Hemingway’s Best Novels” for yourself. Link below.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/62748-best-hemingway-books.html

This was a fun article to read. The comments were just as much fun because everyone has an opinion. It is interesting to see which novels are preferred, and whether only purists love the short stories best. I found the insights to be illuminating. My favorite novel is For whom the Bell Tolls, and among the short stories, I love The Snows of Kilimanjaro and A Clean Well-Lighted Place. The end of Something is also one I reread often.

The end of Something

The end of Something

You?

 

Re-Reading Hemingway

 

            I decided it was time to re-read Hemingway. I’ve read all of it but lately have been reading more books about him instead of reading him. I just finished Mary (wife 4) Hemingway’s How It Was. It had been widely criticized as self-serving and not insightful. For me, it still was very interesting to see Mary’s point of view and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about events that I knew much about but this time from Mary’s perspective. She is a complicated figure and that’s for another post. She put up with a lot of verbal abuse from Hem but also seems to have wanted to be “Hemingway’s Wife,” and for that, she endured.

Mary in older age

Mary in older age

Mary's book

Mary’s book

 

Within the past six months, I also have read Hemingway’s Cats and Hemingway and FItzgerald..  I loved the animal book as much as anything I’ve read about Hemingway! No, it’s not scholarly but it’s human and I am an extreme animal person so I completely melted into the book. I love that Hem loved his animals like family members and he valued their presence in his life.

Hem, boys, and cat

Hem, boys, and cat

A month ago,I began reading the short stories again. I read slowly and

Scott

Scott

found new meaning and layers in this go-round. Favorite: The Snows of Kilimanjaro.  I’m now tackling A Farewell to Arms. I’m listening to it on an audio tape because I find it lets me listen and focus on the words and the sentence structure as opposed to being distracted by the dog, dinner, building a fire, and my office work that’s sitting in a pile on my table.

 

Hem, Martha, boys

Hem, Martha, boys

In listening, I am finding that there is so much that I missed or that I’d forgotten.  Despite my affinity for Hemingway, I don’t like war stories as a rule.  However, listening to the dialogue, I became completely engrossed in the maneuvers of Hemingway’s unit/Frederic Henry’s unit and his cohorts with him. I love Rinaldi and the way he calls Frederic “baby.”

The descriptions are beautiful and immediate and while by modern standards, the romance and the dialogue between Frederic and Catherine are dated, the emotional wallop is still there.

A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms

Next up is Across The River and into the Trees, Hemingway’s most maligned novel for which Adrianna Ivancich was his muse.  As he was writing it, Hemingway apparently thought it was going to be one of his best.  The reviews were brutal.  I haven’t read that one in a long time and I want to see if it’s as bad as all that.

 

So:  Do you have a favorite short story?  A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is probably my favorite but The Snows of Kilimanjaro is the pinnacle for me.

Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro