Geniuses at Work: Hem and Fitzgerald funny letters

In the early 1920s, F. Scott Fitzgerald sent Ernest Hemingway the first draft of the novel that would go on to become his magnum opus, ‘The Great Gatsby.’ What followed was one of the most incredible correspondences in the history of American literature. If you’ve never seen these letters before, you’ve got to check them out right now! They offer some remarkable insight into one of the greatest novels of all time.

You may be baffled, as you read letter one, by Hemingway’s arrogance. READ ON. Really fun and funny by two writers at the top of their powers and who at least at that point, genuinely liked and admired the other’s skills and persona.

Happy

Happy

hem and scott

 

Possible New Filming Location in Cuba

Hemingway's livingroom

Vigia Finca, Cuba. Hemingway’s Living Room, 60 feet long.

One Stateside filmmaker who recently took advantage of Cuba’s retro look is Bob Yari, who spent a month shooting his Ernest Hemingway biopic “Papa” entirely on location in and near Havana in March and April of 2014.

Cuban Jazz

Cuban Jazz

Pug

I’m a Cuban Pug

The old man and the sea

written in Cuba about Cuba

Close up

A Pensive Hemingway

Now that Cuba has opened a bit, more opportunities for on location filming is possible. The new biopic about Hem’s declining years was just filmed and it sounds like the producer was able to use the actual Cuban locations. However, more of this should be possible in the future.

A Hemingway Takeoff: Guest Blogger Will Tincher

A fellow Hemingway fan, Will TIncher, has written a work of about 66,000 words exploring a fictional setting that follows Hemingway as an old man on a road trip with his aspiring baseball player neighbor, just before the actual death of Hemingway. He reconstructed possible conversations from all of Hemingway’s works and tried to show the sum of the man at the end of an incredible life. The text also offers a parallel narrative of the young ball player’s future experiences in the Vietnam War. Take a look!

Working at the Finca

Working at the Finca

Will TIncher’s Excerpt

Mr. Hemingway’s Favorite Drink and Drinking

A MOVEABLE FEAST

A MOVEABLE FEAST

The End of Something

The End of Something

Ernest Hemingway is often apocryphally attributed with the phrase, “Write drunk, edit sober.”

No, his favorite drink was neither a mojito nor a bloody Mary but a dry, very cold Martini! He also, contrary to other claims, did not invent the Bloody Mary (the claim being that it was named after his fourth wife, Mary), during what was to be the equivalent of a period of drinking celibacy with the claim being that he used the tomato base to disguise the vodka. Good story but not true.

A whole book has been written about authors who drink called The Trip to Echo Springs by Olivia Laing. While we all joke about Hemingway “drank here” and that he drank everywhere, it is clearly a serious topic that has decimated the writing population or enhanced their creativity depending on your point of view. While I usually ask, “Why do writers drink so much,” someone once asked me “Why do drinkers write so much?”

Hemingway drank a lot but it didn’t start out that way.  He drank socially although significantly.  He did not drink while working.  On one occasion when asked by a journalist if he drank while writing his novels and short stories, he said,

Drinking and working with cat

“Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”

William Faulkner

William Faulkner

Drinking began early, probably at age 17 and then more drinking while in Italy during the war. Then, once he moved to Paris with Hadley, “the cafes, bars and bal musets became rallying points, look around the table and you might see the brightest minds of the Lost Generation—F. Scott Fitzgerald insanely drunk on champagne, Ezra Pound sipping absinthe, Gertrude Stein enjoying a fine red, James Joyce savoring scotch and Ford Maddox Ford sending back a brandy for the fourth time. They drank up liquor, they drank up life, they drank up each other.” Quote from Hooching with Hemingway by Frank Rich.

Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald

 

Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris

Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris

Hem was highly critical of Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking in their salad days, claiming it sapped Scott’s creativity, in addition to Zelda doing the same. He was annoyed by Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and occasionally criticized his writing in public. Hem and Zelda hated each other and there was never a détente in those feelings. Hem clearly did not see himself falling deeper into the alcoholic lifestyle as the years passed.

By the time Hem left Paris, his drinking habits had changed.  “Where before he’d been a classic binge drinker, he now kept a steady bottle-killing pace. The transition had taken place just months earlier, after Hadley had lost a trunk containing most of his early work, literally years of labor. Crushed, Hemingway turned to alcohol as a means of drowning his bitter rage—when the anger came, he would slip down to the cafe and drink brandy and carouse with friends until happiness seeped back in. Quote from Hooching with Hemingway by Frank Rich

 

Hem also had fun with it.  When Jigee Viertel revealed one evening that she had never had a drink of hard liquor, Hem was astounded. When she indicated a desire to try one, he suspended all that he was doing to consider whether Jigee— now in her mid-thirties— should end her tee totaling and if so, what the proper first drink was. Hem thought she should at least try a drink. He ran down options from a Bloody Mary, to a Manhattan to various gimlets. Finally he decided only a Scotch Sour would do.  Jigee broke into a smile at the first sip, and Hem said, “It’s a good omen.”  (A.E. Hotchner Papa Hemingway Page 60-61)

A Scotch sour and a breeze!

A Scotch sour and a breeze!

Hem brought his own booze to Spain or had it supplied; he kept it on his boat in great abundance.  While he went through periods of abstinence, it never lasted and it was his pacifier of choice.  My own reading leads me to think that initially, he became gregarious; on his own, he could be quite shy.  I have the impression that once a certain point was passed, he became overly verbose and cantankerous.  There is that thin line between wonderful raconteur and domineering ego-maniac who keeps going to the point of becoming a boor and a bore.. I don’t know if that was so in Hem’s case but I think it is what  happened particularly in the later years.

Drunken people crossing

Drunken people crossing

 

Sadly, alcoholism did play its role in Hem’s demise and decline. It appears to have ravaged other relatives after him too. Sad to consider other works that Hemingway may have written absent depression and alcoholism.

 

The below site talks about Hem’s drinking and some specifics.  Interesting article. Check it out.

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/10/30/7-things-you-didnt-know-about-ernest-hemingways-dr

http://austin.eater.com/archives/2013/04/10/modern-mixologist-tony-abouganim-on-hemingways-cocktails-brazilian-boozing-at-the-austin-food-wine-f.php

 

Hello Papaphiles!

 

Working at the Finca

Working at the Finca

HemHello!  Every three months, I post my opening post for those just joining in. For those who stop in regularly, I sincerely and truly thank you for reading and for being interested in Hemingway almost 54 years after his death and 116 years after his birth.  Best to all: Christine

 

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway

What Will Be Happening Here? 

This will be a place to talk Hemingway and any topics related to him and his life.  That gives us a lot of material: writing, Paris, divorce, relationships, Key West, Cuba, Idaho, fishing, boats, bulls, boxing, cats, horses, dogs, the Midwest, movies, other writers.  Anything else?  Oh right, drinking, awards, depression, friends, cruelty, generosity.  Heard enough? Well, there’s still politics, women, religion, Fidel Castro, Gary Cooper, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Africa. Done yet?  Uh, no. we’ve still got mothers, hair, sexual ambiguity, sons, daughters, actresses, sex, suicide, death, clothes, honor, hygiene, the IRS, psychiatrists.

And what would Papa say about a blog?  Hmm, well, if I wanted to pull a page from Woody Allen, I’d say that he’d say: No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure. He was a journalist first and foremost and he kept up with the times so I think he’d be amused.

Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

So what qualifies me to write this blog?  Not too much that’s going to impress you. All I can say is that I love him, just as he was, flawed and fabulous, mean-spirited bully and most gracious of men, driven wordsmith and drunken raconteur, bigot and egalitarian, all of it.  I’m no scholar. I’ll leave that to Timeless Hemingway, www.timelesshemingway.com, which does a superb job and is an unparalleled resource. However, I’ve read them all many times: the books, the short stories, the analyses, the biographies, the women, even the Hemingway cookbook which I actually cook from (the trout is delicious). I’m just an obsessed fan, uncluttered by the need to be neutral.  I hope to learn from you too.

Finally, I find him fascinating, complex, and yes, manly but I think he actually “got” quite a bit about women contrary to popular myth. That’s a topic for another day. Also a topic for another day is why the mask above on the oh so lovely woman. Also a topic for another day is what do we call him in this blog?  Ernest, Ernesto, Wemedge, Nesto, Ernie, Oinbones,Papa, Tatie, Hem, Hemingstein, Hems, or just plain Hemingway? We’ll see. Perhaps we’ll put it to a vote. I have a Hemingway party on his birthday every year (July 21) and I’ll take a poll there too and let you know the results.

The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn

The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn

Of course, none of my friends “get” it and think Hemingway was that guy who wrote in short sentences and wanted to fight with everyone and run with the bulls.  They are partially right and mostly wrong.  But hey, you can’t throw away old friends just because they don’t really read or have an informed opinion about Hemingway–or can you?

These posts will be short and fun (I hope) and will be up every Friday by midnight. I hope it’s enjoyable for Hemingway people as well as for casual observers. I’ve looked at the other blogs about Hemingway. Most are terrific but there still is room for a lighter take and for the unending discussion about why we continue to read him fifty years after his death. And if you have to ask . . .

Check me out when you have a chance. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Hem, Hadley and Bumby

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Me

Me

A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms

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The House on a Hill

written 100% in Cuba

written 100% in Cuba

The famous author lived on the island for 20 years. Now, efforts to preserve Hemingway’s house are proving a model for improved ties with the U.S.

Hemingway’s house is being restored to its former loveliness. Not as elegant as his Key West home, I think it suited him better. Visitors To his Cuban home still cannot go in but can peek through the windows.  The excitement of getting to view the places he wrote is catching and I hope to make Cuba my next trip.

Dining room in Cuba and drinking with cat

Dining room in Cuba and drinking with cat

 SI Senor. I love Cuba.

SI Senor. I love Cuba.

Hem's Dining room in Key West

Hem’s Dining room in Key West

Was Hemingway Bi-polar?

FROM THE moment Ernest Hemingway saw Finca Vigia ( Lookout Farm) outside Havana in 1939, it became his home in the deepest sense.

The above article discusses Hemingway’s time in Cuba, self-medication perhaps with alcohol, and his love for his Cuban home. Very interesting. Best, Christine

 

Hemingway: the early years in Oak Park

Hemingway's Summer Michigan places

Hemingway’s Summer Michigan places

the family

The family, Hem is tall in back

Young Hem fishing

Young Hem fishing

Hem as toddler

Hem as toddler, second from left.

Italy and home 161

I’m thinking of my friends who are going to Cuba next month and I’m not. I had planned a different vacation before i knew of their trip and could not do Cuba. SAD for me but happy for them.

Check out this interesting article on Hemingway’s early years.

The Oak Park Public Library will be able to offer unprecedented access to rare Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park and library archives thanks to a grant from the Illinois Secretary of State to digitize Illinois history. Due to a grant, documents that previously were unavailable to the public will be digitized and on view in Hemingway’s hometown. The exhibit focuses on Hemingway’s youth in Illinois.