New Book: During War, Hemingway Was Good at Being Hemingway

New Book

David Hendricks published a review of a new book by Terry Mort, Hemingway At War. He found much to admire. I’ll quote directly from the review:

“The two key words in Terry Mort’s new book—“Hemingway” and “War”—carry equal weight. Although Hemingway is the hook for most readers, Mort’s book has long stretches about World War II that have little to do with the Nobel Prize winning novelist who was also a correspondent in Europe for Colliers Magazine. That’s not a bad thing. Mort’s buildup to the D-Day invasion at Normandy and the allied forces liberating Paris and their deadly struggle to cross into Germany is fascinating.

Hem and Hadley

“The Hemingway narrative in the book starts with his romance and marriage to another war correspondence, Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife. Hemingway himself engaged in the war while living in Cuba as World War II began, patrolling the Cuban shores to hunt down German U-boats. This period was fictionalized in Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream. Gellhorn left Hemingway in Cuba to report news in Europe, a move he ultimately followed in 1944 in time for D-Day. Mort alternates between the war and Hemingway’s exploits as a war correspondent.

“He also follows the novelist as Hemingway’s marriage to Gellhorn dissolves and he romances Mary Welsh, yet another foreign correspondent who became his fourth wife.

Caribbean surveillance
Martha and Hem shortly after their marriage

“Mort does not idealize Hemingway and the main point of the book’s first half is to demonstrate that Hemingway was a poor war correspondent, at least in comparison with others such as Ernie Pyle, Edward R. Murrow, and Walter Cronkite.

 

Hem and Mary

“He did show bravery in certain episodes and suffered several head injuries. Hemingway actually landed with allied troops on D-Day at Omaha Beach, certainly a courageous act.

Hemingway At War, demonstrates a trend that seems to have no end—that as meritorious as some of Hemingway’s novels are, it is his vigorous life and outsized personality, more than his books, that provide continuous grist for interesting history books.”

Working

So, I would say that Mr. Hendricks enjoyed the book and feels that it added to the Hemingway legend and full involvement in the second war.

Kirkus felt it was too short on facts. So take a look and you decide.

Hemingway At War: Hemingway’s Adventures as a World War II Correspondent, by Terry Mort.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

very cold Martini, Hemingway’s favorite
but not while editing

This was a famous saying from Hemingway but science is now backing it up.  While it’s a cool saying, in reality, it was pretty rare that Hemingway wrote drunk.  While writing, he tended to follow a very rigid schedule of getting up early, working until the early afternoon and then stopping.  He also liked to stop writing only when he knew what was happening next in his story or novel, so he could start with a jolt the following day.  When once it was suggested that he wrote drunk, his response was “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 has had his first one.  Besides, who in the hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”

William Faulkner

 

An Australian blog, The Expert Editor, recently wrote about the science behind writing drunk and editing sober.  Using a variety of studies, the author concluded that at a fairly low threshold of alcohol, the brain actually is stimulated in creative ways the sober brain might not be.  “The part Hemingway got wrong however is that at the point of legit drunkenness, the quality of one’s writing goes south pronto.  The author of For Whom the Bell Tolls may have built up an elephantine tolerance for alcohol to the point where he could drink a fifth of whiskey and still crank out prose that would be studied decades later.” 

Not drinking
Perhaps drinking after writing.. This particular photo is while on a safari.

But again, while there is no question that Hemingway did become an alcoholic,  he was not writing his masterpieces drunk. he took writing way too seriously for that.  He might drink later in the day, but not while he was creating.

 

The science seems to suggest that because alcohol suppresses certain responses and makes you less focused because it decreases your working memory, you start to care less about what is happening around you and enables you to “think outside the box.”  Creativity is your ability to think of something original from connections made between preexisting ideas.  Apparently, the idea is to be tipsy but not drunk, at which point your focus becomes too diminished to hit that creative synapse.

Too much caffeine?

 

The article goes on to note that it would be imprudent to edit while drunk.  Try editing while having coffee.  Coffee has the opposite function of alcohol because caffeine provides more working memory so that as we focus on a task we can make those changes.  Coffee also helps you to ignore distractions while editing your own work.

 

Hem in Cuba

Hemingway used to edit as he went along but then he would put it aside and look at it afresh.  For those of you who are writers, you are likely familiar with rereading your own writing so many times that you just have no perspective anymore and your eyes are hopping over edits that should be made.  Sticking your manuscript in a drawer for a while is not a bad idea.  Things you never saw before all of a sudden jump out at you.  What you thought was clever now seems contrived and your witty dialogue feels forced.

A Moveable Feast

 

So, there you have it.  Hemingway backed up by science, ye of little faith.

 

Trip to Hemingway’s Cuba

NEWS ARTICLE
HPMEC FINALIZES PLANS FOR SPRING TRIP TO CUBA
02/08/2017

on the Pilar

PIGGOTT — Several openings are still available for a unique trip to Cuba in May presented by the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center.

2014 Trip to Cuba Members of the travel party who visited Cuba in 2014
This “Friends of the Pfeiffers” trip will follow writer Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps from his novel Islands in the Stream. This small, guided trip is open to the public and will feature visits to the beautiful and virgin cayos (keys) along the pristine central coast, and with sites associated with Hemingway’s time in Cuba and other traditional sites in Havana.

Hem and Pauline Pfeiffer

Hemingway lived in Cuba for 21 years. During his time there, he wrote The Old Man and the Sea (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize) at the home he called Finca Vigía or “lookout farm,” located nine miles outside of Havana.

This eight-day/seven-night trip will have two parts. First, the group will travel to Havana to enjoy the art, music, dance and architecture of the city. Travelers will enjoy a private reception with the curator of Finca Vigía, explore Old Havana (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and see the amazing architecture in central Havana as well as stop at many of Hemingway’s favorite places: Hotel Ambos Mundos, La Bodeguita del Medio, El Floridita, and Sloppy Joe’s.

Hemingway and Castro

In addition to sites specifically associated with Hemingway, travelers will also get to enjoy some of the Cuban classics, including a visit to the Rum Museum, a ride in a classic American car and a visit to a cigar factory.

Cadillac in Havana

Part two will be an exploration of the keys off the central coast, Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, which provided the backdrop for Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream. Guests will have an opportunity to interact with the locals for optional activities including fishing, diving, snorkeling, hiking, bird watching, or just exchanging ideas with other Hemingway lovers.

This is the museum’s second trip to Cuba. Thirty-four travelers from 10 states joined the museum for a trip in 2014. To register for the trip, or to get pricing or other information, contact the museum at (870) 598-3487 or adamlong@astate.edu.

Finca Vigia

HPMEC is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site. Regular museum hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.–3 p.m., Saturday, 1-3 p.m., with tours on the hour.

Zelda: Scott and Hemingway

I always think of Hemingway and Fitzgerald somewhat together because of their beginning in Paris. They had a falling out early on in their relationship and Fitzgerald died in 1940 at the age of 44, well before Hemingway’s who died in 1961. However, it is hard to avoid thinking of the early years, the promise, the romance, the excitement of a new direction in writing. Both were originals and true to their visions (well for the most part. Fitzgerald was not happy with writing for Hollywood in lieu of penning a great novel.) And you can’t think of Scott without Zelda. There is a new series about Zelda. Please read Ms. Felsenthal’s take on it all. The article was printed in Vogue and i have lifted only the first third. There is also an interview with Christina Ricci. And I added the photos. Love, Christine

by JULIA FELSENTHAL

You probably have some less-than-flattering preconceived notions of Zelda Fitzgerald, and there’s a good chance you cribbed them, at least indirectly, from Ernest Hemingway. In A Moveable Feast, his posthumously published (1964), now-beloved memoir of ex-patriot life in 1920s Paris, Hemingway wrote extensively about his good friend, the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, and about Fitzgerald’s muse, his wife Zelda, the entrancing, free-spirited flapper extraordinaire. Except in Hemingway’s telling, she was actually a cruel, frivolous, controlling harpy who jealously undermined her husband’s success, manipulated him into a life of hard-drinking, and even convinced him he was too poorly endowed to keep a woman happy. When Zelda’s erratic behavior landed her in an institution (her diagnosis was schizophrenia, though we now speculate she might have been bipolar), Hemingway was pleased that it meant his poor put-upon buddy could finally get some real writing done.

Scott and Zelda

The first season of Z takes place years before all that: Zelda is the belle of the ball in Montgomery, Alabama, less the wild child we’ve read about, and more an actual child testing out the boundaries of her rebelliousness. Then she meets a very young, enlisted F. Scott Fitzgerald (David Hoflin), stationed near Montgomery before shipping off overseas (the war would end before he had to), a Minnesota-born Princetonian who dreams of becoming a great writer and who has already incubated a not-so-great drinking problem.

Hem and Scott

The first few episodes of Z feel a little bit like Roaring ’20s Muppet Babies: a sunny, sanitized, myopic romp through the scrappy early years of a pair who would one day become icons of their age. But as the skies darken over the Fitzgeralds’ charmed life, the show becomes an unremitting examination of a complicated marriage in the early stages of curdling, and a kind, but not wholly apologetic spotlight on Zelda, who is struggling in real time to keep up bon vivant appearances, to keep her husband productive, and to locate any sense of personal creativity within a partnership that’s proving as stifling as Montgomery ever was.

Zelda in ballet slippers

We watch as Scott nixes Zelda’s acting aspirations and unabashedly mines her diaries for his own fiction. (Literary history goes that he would also later publish her stories under his name—he commanded the bigger paycheck—and that he excised from her only novel, Save Me the Waltz, biographical material that he wanted for his Tender Is the Night.) We also watch as Zelda’s unrealistic lifestyle-demands and ravenous appetite for novelty keep her husband away from his work.

Was F. Scott Fitzgerald the domineering husband who squashed his wife’s potential, or was she the succubus who ruined him? In the first season of Z it’s too early to tell, though the show seems far more interested in exploring the murky corners of their flawed coupling—the very definition of can’t live with/can’t live without—than it does in issuing a final verdict.

Scott
Max perkins, shared editor at Scribners

When her novel came out, The New Yorker criticized Fowler for smoothing out her character’s rough edges. Her Zelda was “easy to relate to even as she runs wild, sensible while allegedly insane.”

Ricci’s Zelda is no less relatable. We are, after all, in the age of the anti-heroine, when empathizing with women behaving badly is a thing. But in the actress’s hands, the character is also enigmatically feral. Her Zelda is unpredictable to a fault, a prisoner of her own racing mind, whose vagaries often lead her into situations she’s ill-equipped to handle. There’s always something roiling behind the actress’s eyes, a charge that makes her electric to watch.

Zelda and Scott, Midnight in Paris

“Our hope is that this for people is almost like a first-person experience,” Ricci told me over the phone. “It really gives you the time to go through her life with her. You feel more intimacy.”

Hem and Scott

 

Happy 90th to THE SUN ALSO RISES

Lovely article by Juan Vidal and what Hemingway’s debut novel meant to him. Best, Christine

From Pamplona, With Love: ‘The Sun Also’ Turns 90

The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

Paperback, 251 pages |

But in my early 20s, someone mailed me a dusty copy of Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises. I’d never read anything quite like it — and haven’t since.

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the publication of that book. A masterpiece of the form, The Sun Also Rises is a rare feat in its power and restraint, its terse yet evocative sentences making a strong impression as I was beginning to hone in on my own love of words: “Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it?” one character asks narrator Jake, an American newspaper reporter. “Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”

 

Ernest Hemingway: Not just some old white guy going on about a crusty fisherman.

Lloyd Arnold/Getty Images

Related NPR Stories

None of Hemingway’s other works, though some were good and even great, quite captured the idea of desire and longing that his debut does. But there’s also a blatant sadness that permeates the entire novel, which, in truth, is what attracted me more than anything. How could these depressed and oftentimes insufferable socialites be drawn so beautifully? And how on earth could such simple, stripped down prose carry this kind of emotional weight? Nathaniel Hawthorne says it best: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

But for me, it’s much more than that. When I read The Sun Also Rises – and I go back to it every few years — I’m instantly transported to Pamplona, where Hemingway’s characters go to watch the bullfights. I visited Pamplona as a kid with my family, and I too watched the bullfights, with my father — who in all honesty doesn’t deserve any more mention than that.

Except for the fact that he was the one who randomly sent me this wonderful book, more than a decade after we’d lost touch.

The Sun Also Rises, a title taken from Ecclesiastes, is like its author in that it means different things to different people. Sure, some might say that A Farewell to Arms is a better book, or that For Whom the Bell Tolls is a more sophisticated piece of literature, but they are wrong. And that’s in part because they didn’t visit Pamplona at a certain age, nor receive a random gift when they were young and impressionable, or they simply weren’t open enough to be floored by what Hemingway was doing with language and, dear God, dialogue.

The Sun Also Rises centers on the inner lives of that now-infamous group Gertrude Stein called the “Lost Generation,” but like all books it also holds personal meaning for each reader. Its pages make me recall the noise of a crowd cheering on a brave matador, the expectation I felt as a boy, even the dizzying smell of blood in the air. They remind me of my father, who never gave me much more than this perfect novel, which you might say is a hell of a lot.

Pamplona
Pamplona

 

 

 

Writers Retreat to the Left Bank of Paris

A Paris Writers’ Workshop Left Bank Retreat June 11-16, 2017 is designed to help writers become inspired and write better than they otherwise might as they bask in the spirit of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, et al. The six-day seminar and experiential literary travel adventure uses Hemingway’s writing techniques as creative inspiration in small group writing sessions.

Working

If interested, take a look at the article about the costs, recommendations, and details. I wish I could . . . .

Left bank
Eiffel Tower

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/01/prweb13985873.htm

 

Trump: “the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter” ??

This blog is apolitical but this is somewhat amusing in our context. So you be the Judge!  Christine

People photograph Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with their smart phones as he speaks to guests during a campaign rally at the Gerald W. Kirn Middle School on Jan. 31, 2016 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty)
People photograph Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with their smart phones as he speaks to guests during a campaign rally at the Gerald W. Kirn Middle School on Jan. 31, 2016 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

Trump embraces a title: ‘The Ernest Hemingway of Twitter’

Updated
The Washington Post had a piece the other day on a week’s worth of Donald Trump tweets, which ultimately “stoked anxiety, moved markets and altered plans.” What stood out for me, however, was this:
For Trump, his online dominance is a source of pride. He boasts to friends, aides and journalists alike about the quality of his writing – pointed, pungent and memorable – and claims that people call him “the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter.”

Now, when it comes to the alleged “quality” of Trump’s writing, it’s obviously a subjective matter. I’m of the opinion that the president-elect generally comes across like an intemperate tween – complete with unfortunate typos and an unhealthy reliance on exclamation points, scare quotes, and needlessly capitalized letters – but it’s admittedly a matter of taste.

More interesting is the idea that Donald Trump believes unnamed “people” have begun referring to him as “the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter.”

I’d like to know who these people are.

In fact, I went looking for them yesterday, but came up empty. Searching Google and Lexis-Nexis, I tried to find anyone, anywhere, at any time, publicly describing Donald J. Trump as “the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter.” Other than examples from the man himself, nothing turned up.

In November 2015, Trump told a South Carolina audience, “Somebody said I’m the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.” Three months earlier, he said roughly the same thing. It appears Trump is fond of the title, but he’s never identified the “somebody” who gave it to him.

It’s tempting to think he simply came up with the idea on his own – maybe it’s like the time George Costanza tried to give himself a nickname – but that would suggest Trump knows something about Hemingway’s writing style, and that seems hard to believe.

So, who are these folks who’ve equated the president-elect with the legendary Papa? The mystery continues.

Hemingway as Opera or Broadway Musical?

 

            I’ve always wondered myself why no Broadway shows or musicals have ever been made of Hemingway’s work.  It seems that some of them would lend themselves well.  A Farewell to Arms certainly could be a tragic, beautiful story with music – as it is even without the music.

A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms

             I just read an article by an opera lover opining on this same issue.  Fred Plotkin wrote an article after his visit to Ketchum, Idaho, which inspired him to do more thinking about Hemingway.  He noted that Hemingway wrote little about Idaho, where he spent many years and where he worked on For Whom The Bell Tolls, A Moveable Feast, The Dangerous Summer, Islands In The Stream, A Garden of Eden, and The Shot.  

Ketchum Idaho home where Hem died
Ketchum Idaho home where Hem died

            Hemingway is buried in the local cemetery where his fourth wife, Mary, and his sons Gregory and Jack, are also buried.   

            Hemingway first went to Ketchum, Idaho in 1939 at the invitation of the Sun Valley Resort.  Sun Valley was trying to gain some acceptance as a visitor’s holiday center.  As part of a promotional invitation, the resort also invited movie stars Lucille Ball, Gary Cooper and Clark Gable.  Hemingway was not only known in 1939 as a superb writer but also as an outdoorsman, a hunter and a fisherman, all of which would be attractions for visitors to the Ketchum area. 

            In exchange for some promotional photographs, Hemingway was offered a two year stay.  He ended up dividing those years between Idaho and his home in Cuba.  

            He wrote a great deal of For Whom The Bell Tolls in 1940 when he stayed in a cabin in Sun Valley with Martha Gellhorn and his three sons, Jack, Patrick and Gregory. 

Idaho
Idaho

            In 1946, Hemingway returned with his fourth wife Mary and stayed in various cabins in the area.  He returned for good –well for good part-time – in 1958.  Ultimately, when it appeared that it was prudent to leave Cuba and the FBI would not let him return to get his things, he and Mary settled permanently in Ketchum, although they kept an apartment in New York City for a while.  

Ketchum
Ketchum

            During the intervening years, he had won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for Old Man In The Sea and the following year the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

            His health also was in decline. 

            Never a snob, Hemingway mingled easily with the local people in Ketchum as he had done in Spain and Cuba.  He was well liked and upon his death, the locals did their best to keep the press out at Mary Hemingway’s request. 

Mary
Mary

            Fred Plotkin notes that he created a list of operas that have been based on American writers’ novels.  Those included An American Tragedy (Dreiser), The Aspern Papers, (Henry James), Bel Canto (Ann Patchett), The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald), Little Women (Alcott), McTeague (Frank Noris), Moby Dick (Melville), Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck), The Postman Always Rings Twice (James M. Cain), The Scarlett Letter (Hawthorne), and Willy Stark (based on Robert Penwarren’s All The King’s Men).   

            It turns out that there is a one act opera version of The Sun Also Rises written by Webster Young.  It premiered at Long Island Opera in 2000.   

            A two act opera, written by a man in the Soviet Union, was composed of Hemingway’s life.   

            Mr. Plotkin would chose The Old Man and the Sea as a chamber opera.  I don’t know much about opera, but he is suggesting that Santiago be sung by an older bass, such as Samuel Ramey or Ferruccio Furlanetto.

            Please read this article directly at this link.  The photos of Hemingway’s view from his porch in Ketchum and his home are well worth looking at:  an inspiration to an amazing writer who used just enough words to say what he wanted to say.

http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/operatic-ernest-hemingway/

 

 

 

ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES

  •         across-the-river-and-into-the-trees    One of Hemingway’s least popular and most poorly received novels, Across the River and Into the Trees, is being adapted for film.  Pierce Brosnan is going to play the colonel and Maria Valverde will play Renata.  Many years ago, Gary Cooper, who had been in two of Hemingway’s films already and who was a close friend of Hemingway’s, considered playing the colonel if it were ever adapted.  It never came to pass and has never happened since. 
  • pierce-brosnan
  •             For those unfamiliar with this novel, published in 1950, it tells the story of an American colonel, Richard Cantwell, who is in Italy right after World War II.  He has just learned that he has a terminal illness yet he carries on without telling anyone, with a stoic disregard of his fate.  I haven’t read the novel in a while but my recollection is that the colonel was in his mid to late fifties and embittered by life.  He decides to spend a weekend in quiet solitude. To that end, he grabs a military driver to take him on a duck hunting trip as well as to enjoy a visit to his old haunts in Venice.  As his plans unravel, he meets a young countess, Renata, by chance and he begins to rekindle hope for a future possibly and he becomes less eager to die. Clearly infatuated with her, Cantwell dreams that he may have life left in him yet.
    Maria Valverde
    Maria Valverde

                The inspiration for the novel was Hemingway’s love/infatuation for eighteen-year-old Adriana Ivancich. He met her in a rain storm. She was a bit bedraggled and Hemingway took his comb and broke it in half, giving her one half. The book became something of a scandal, more for her than for him, as the implication was that she and Hemingway were lovers. He would have wanted that but it appears that that did not happen. Adriana created the first cover art for the book, which was also widely criticized as amateurish.  Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary, also was none too keen on this book for many reasons. The reviews were brutal. Still it became a best seller within 7 weeks of its release in America.  

    on his boat with Adriana
    EH2841P nd.
    Ernest Hemingway and Adriana Ivancich with stuffed lion. Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. Copyright unknown in the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

                Isabella Rosallini has signed on as the countess’s mother.   

    Isabella Rossellini
    Isabella Rossellini

                Filming is supposed to start in January on location in Venice and Trieste.across-the-river

     

                So we’ll see.