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.

     

Is This a Smart Move or Dumbing It all Down? (5 minutes after this see my next post)

Four classics so far have been made child friendly by KinderGuides: On The Road, by Jack Kerouac; Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote; Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The stories have been dramatically abbreviated and have large, colorful illustrations. Among the next four classics to be published by KinderGuides are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. Bear in mind, these are being read to 6 to 12-year olds. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, blessedly omits the drugs, prostitutes and wild parties.

Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac
Spencer Tracy as Santiago
Spencer Tracy as Santiago

Forbes just published an article by Frank Miniter entitled “A Startling Example of How the Politically Correct Currents Pull Strongly Toward Mediocrity.” It starts out asking if Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, actually can be watered down for young readers, noting that the great dumbing down of the American mind isn’t just underway, but has become a parody of itself.

The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea

The KinderGuides’ version of The Old Man and the Sea begins with, “Santiago is an old fisherman who lives in a small village by the sea, on an island called Cuba. Every day he takes his boat far out into the ocean to catch fish. But after 84 days of trolling, he hasn’t caught any fish at all. He is sad.”

Frank Miniter’s article notes further that The Old Man and the Sea is a concise novella as it is, exploring man’s struggle, not just with a fish, but with his mortality. The prose in the original is hardly difficult. The real Hemingway begins, “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the gulfstream and he had gone eighty-four days now without a fish.” If the word ‘skiff’ is a new and challenging word, there is always the dictionary. At the Forbes article goes on to note, the theme of a man’s struggling, knowing his body is failing him and that inevitably he will be a tragic figure, but that nevertheless he must face his mortality with grace, regardless, is lost in the KinderGuides’ version.

Miniter writes, “Instead of raising children’s knowledge and understanding of these things, this is another example of watering down the education of our youth. Should great paintings also be simplified into cartoon characters? How about plays and music?”

This reminds me of the cartoons—which were designed to be ironic and funny—of condensing of Hemingway’s books into one-minute cartoons. I’ll repost A Farewell to Arms below. (IN FIFTEEN MINUTES SEE INSTAGRAM NOVEL.)

Do you think this is a smart way to introduce children to the classics or just plain ridiculous?

Best to all for the New Year!

Hem in Cuba
Hem in Cuba
Hem's living room in Cuba
Hem’s living room in Cuba

 

Love, Christine

Gems About Writing: Two from Hemingway

Writers have different technique, styles, and superstitions about writing.  Here are a few tips from the greats.
1. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingwayhemingway-age-30
2. “Go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$%ng novel.” John Green
john-green
3. “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” Doris Lessingdoris-lessing
4. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing- writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.” Lawrence Block
5.  “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” Ray Bradburyray-bradbury
6. “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Douglas Adams
7. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well.” Stephen Kingstephen-king
8.  “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrisontoni-morrison
9. “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorowel-doctorow
10. “If I waited for perfection I would never write a word.” Margaret Atwood
11. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” George Orwellgeorge-orwell
12. “It’s none of their business that you had to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Ernest Hemingway

14. “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” Barbara Kingsolver.

15. “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” JD Salingerj-d-salinger
And there you have it!
Happy holidays and THANK YOU for reading this blog and keeping interest in Hemingway alive.  Love, Christine
Marlene Dietrich, great pal of Hemingway
Marlene Dietrich, great pal of Hemingway
Hem in Tweed
Hem in Tweed: Happy New Year

How She Came to Love Baseball (and Hemingway)

The below well-written article by Lyz Lenz captures how Hemingway sneaks up on you.   I too started out not liking the clipped sentences and actually disliked his subject matter. As I became fascinated by him as a persona, I went back to read his works. And there it was. I still hate some of his topics but I realized that at its heart, his stories and novels are really just about life and love, getting it, losing it, coping with both. He doesn’t sugar coat it and leaves it raw, and yet therein is its power. I shortened the article slightly. Well said, Ms. Lenz.

The old man and the sea
The old man and the sea

 

How Ernest Hemingway taught me to love baseball
By Lyz Lenz | Dec 2, 2016
In college, when I began dating the man who would become my husband, he told me that his family loved baseball.

Hemingway with Patrick, John "Bumby", and Gregory "Gigi"), at Club de Cazadores del Cerro, Cuba. Photograph in Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Hemingway with Patrick, John “Bumby”, and Gregory “Gigi”), at Club de Cazadores del Cerro, Cuba. Photograph in Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

To understand us, you have to understand baseball,” Dave once told me over a dinner of burgers at our favorite diner. I shrugged.

The second year we were dating, I started my senior year of college. One of the classes I signed up for was on Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. I loved Faulkner, whose wild characters and dense prose often made me laugh out loud. But I cared nothing for Hemingway. I hated his female characters and the cold feel of his short sentences. But I couldn’t take a class on one without the other, so I signed up.

We began that semester with Hemingway’s short stories, starting with the collection “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and then moving onto “In Our Time.” I was surprised at how often sports were on the periphery of his writing — the depressed prize fighter in “The Killers,” the match fixing in “Fifty Grand” and hunting in “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”

It was something I’d never noticed before, how consumed with physical action his characters were, how sport gave them an identity, whether real or imagined, that could in turn devastate and define who they were.

I told Gary I was reading Hemingway.

“Oh, he’s my favorite author,” he said on one of my visits. I was shocked. I didn’t think he read anything besides books on management and Mickey Mantle biographies. He told me his favorite book was “Old Man and the Sea,” and I rolled my eyes.

“The Three-Day Blow” is everything I hate in a story — boys going into the woods to talk about women and get drunk. But when I read it that fall, I was 21 and in love with a boy who loved baseball. Reading the story again, I saw baseball in a way I’d never seen it before. Upset over a breakup, Nick Adams, a character who became an alter-ego for Hemingway, goes to a cabin with his friend Bill. They get drunk on whiskey and talk about women, but that topic contains mystery and heartbreak. So, they talk baseball. Alternating between love and disillusionment for the sport, their words become metaphors for the other things they can’t bring themselves to say. When Nick declares “…baseball is a game for louts” he might as well be saying “love is a game for louts.”

Baseball  gives the two boys a common language and experience.

When all else failed, baseball was a way to be part of something together — some way to touch and connect with something great, to believe that whatever else fails, here is a thing that mattered, a place where winning was possible, and hope always prevailed.

I love baseball and Hemingway
I love baseball and Hemingway

That same semester, during Thanksgiving break, as I began to write my final paper for the class on baseball, Hemingway and love, Dave asked me to marry him under the stars while we danced as Carole King’s “Far Away” played from the CD player on his Mazda.

Hem, Martha, and boys on Safari
Hem, Martha, and boys on Safari

Lyz Lenz’s writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Marie Claire, Pacific Standard, Buzzfeed and the LA Review of Books. She lives in Iowa, but you can find her on Twitter @lyzl

End of An Era in Cuba

It is the end of an era in Cuba. Although Fidel Castro has not recently been active in governing Cuba, he still was a force and an icon.

Hemingway and Castro
Hemingway and Castro

Hemingway loved his Cuban home. From his patio at night, he could see the lights of Havana twinkling in the distance. When asked why he didn’t live in America, he said – and I am paraphrasing – “if you can find a place in the States that has this climate, this food, these people, I’ll happily move.” He loved the Cuban people, baseball, the food, the drink, fishing.

on his boat with Adriana
on his boat with Adriana

 

Finca Vigia
Finca Vigia

Hemingway did have a run in with Batista’s forces shortly before he was forced to leave Cuba. They had invaded his home – why, I don’t recall at the moment – and when his loyal old spaniel, Black Dog, tried to defend, a soldier hit him in the head with the butt of his gun and Black Dog perished. Hemingway never recovered from that loss and it increased the depression that he was already suffering. Black Dog lived for Hemingway. When Hemingway was away, he’d pine and barely eat and sit on the front steps, waiting for master’s return. When Hemingway took a walk in the gardens, as he did most mornings, Black Dog and an ever-loyal Boise, one of his favorite cats, would follow along. When Hemingway would write, Black Dog was at his feet and wouldn’t move until he stopped writing for the day.cadillacinhavana

As Cuba became a more perilous place to live, Hemingway, who had a nodding acquaintance personally with Castro, felt with a sense of foreboding that his time in Cuba was nearing an end. As protesters roamed the streets with signs saying “Yanqui No”, he, and particularly Mary, his wife, came to realize that their time was limited. It came faster than they expected when on a trip to America, Hemingway was advised that he and Mary could not return. That’s a whole other story for another day.

Hem drinks with Boise
Hem drinks with Boise

Whatever your opinion about Castro, he leveraged the status of Little Cuba into a country that was noticed by all. The Bay of Pigs is legendary. The U.S., and particularly John F. Kennedy, suffered a stinging loss that haunted Kennedy greatly. This disaster was later somewhat balanced out by the psychological and real victory in the Cuban missile crisis. As most of you probably recall, Nikita Khrushchev backed down and did not put missiles in Cuba–within launching reach of the U.S. Castro’s death does indeed mark the end of an era.

Catch a Marlin
Catch a Marlin
Happy
Happy

Book Trailer of The Rage of Plum Blossoms

This is the book trailer for my new book published a month ago by Kindle’s private press. Thank you more than I can say for reading my blog, for loving/enjoying Hemingway, and for just plain still reading. Love and happy holiday season, Christine

An Irish writer follows Hem/Fitzgerald Trail

Hem and Scott
Hem and Scott

Ciara O’Callaghan, who is a travel writer for the Irish Times, just wrote an article on trailing F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway and following their European, American, and Caribbean travels. Noting that they were the Jekyll and Hyde equivalent in the literary world with Hemingway being the ultimate man’s man, bullfighter, and womanizer and Fitzgerald being the eternal outsider and hopeless romantic, Ms. O’Callaghan notes that they nevertheless shared in common a fondness for hard and heavy drinking and quality writing.

finca-vigia
Finca Vigia
Harry's Bar
Harry’s Bar

 

They first met in Paris in 1925 when Fitzgerald was close to the top of the literary world and Hemingway was a mere newly-arrived hopeful. Ms. O’Callaghan traipsed from the Dingo Bar in Paris where the two writers first met, to Harry’s New York, and The Ritz, all in Paris and then traveled to the Finca Vigia outside Havana. While in the vicinity, she visited the El Floridita to sample some Papa Dobles plus a few daiquiris and sit next to the bronze statue of Papa at the bar.martini

She then moved on to Montgomery, Alabama to soak up some F. Scott ambiance. It was in Alabama that Fitzgerald made a home with his wife Zelda and ultimately their daughter Scotty. 

Zelda
Zelda

 Zelda came from a wealthy established Alabama family and her father–a Judge–was quite sure that this “writer” could not meet his daughter’s needs. Zelda, however, was in love and Fitzgerald was crazy over-the-moon in love with Zelda and off they went to Europe as a young married couple.

Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris
Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris

 

As Fitzgerald’s star began to fade, primarily due to drink and lack of focus which probably was due to drink, Hemingway’s star began to rise. Ms. O’Callaghan notes that Hemingway is often cast in the role of Hyde, i.e. more fiend than friend, known for criticizing Fitzgerald behind his back. Less known are his kind words to Fitzgerald and his constant reassurance that “you can write twice as well now as you ever could.”

My reading suggests that they both were always seeking reassurance from each other and even when they had a falling out, they would communicate indirectly through Max Perkins wondering what the other was doing. Perkins would accommodate and let each know something about the other. Fitzgerald always referred to Hemingway as “the greatest living writer of this century.” The were the original frenemies, before there was a word for it.

Key West
Key West
Max perkins
Max perkins

 

In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway does backhandedly put Fitzgerald down, but please let’s recall that it was published posthumously in 1964 without editing by Hemingway. For all we know, he would have changed that significantly. He could be cruel but he also could be extremely generous and loyal to his friends.

 Ms. O’Callaghan ends her article by quoting Hemingway who once said that, “You should never go on trips with anyone you do not love,” and she notes that luckily for herself she loves both writers and enjoyed her travels with “them.”. Ditto here, although Hemingway is always first in my heart.

Hemingway age 30
Hemingway age 30

 

 

 

New Hemingway Bio: What made him what he was? “Hemingway: A New Life”

Pamplona
Pamplona

The most famous writer of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway, had such an eventful life that he created enough myths to keep his story alive well into this century.  There are whole industries based on the Hemingway image:  look alike contests held in Key West; bad Hemingway writing contests; drinks popularized by him; Harry’s Bar and Grill in Venice; the running of the bulls in Pamplona; and that’s just to name a few.  All of the foregoing are efforts to have a connection with what he did and what he was.Hem and Valerie

He had many unattractive traits along with his more positive ones.  His excesses are well-known and his granddaughter, Mariel Hemingway, who was born after his death, has made it her vocation to educate the public about mental illness and the need to avoid the destructive patterns that depression and alcoholism create for everyone around them.  In her book “When Out Came the Sun” was published, she said she considered it a corrective “to the romanticizing of hard drinking and writing and living this macho existence, which I’m sure, if my grandfather could do it again, he would choose a different way.”

Mariel
Mariel

I just read an article which delineates some of the above and which reviews a new book on Hemingway by James M. Hutchisson, called Hemingway: A New Life.  He quotes Hemingway’s brother Leicester as saying “he loved everything up to a certain point, and then nothing was good anymore.”  Hutchisson’s searches for the roots of Hemingway’s discontent.  He believes casual drinking that evolved into lifetime alcoholism and too much success at too young an age contributed.  Hemingway developed a very competitive streak and his high standards created an almost suffocating anxiety in him, says Hutchisson.  When critics savaged “Across the River and Into the Woods”, published in 1950, Hemingway felt it was unjust and it really bothered him deeply, tapping into his insecurities and anxieties. He particularly hated that James Jones’ “From Here To Eternity” was getting raves.

brother Leicester's book
brother Leicester’s book

Toward the end of the 1950’s, Hemingway’s health and mental health truly began to fail.  Two plane crashes in 1954 hadn’t helped his health.  Years of drinking and failing to take care of his weight, blood pressure and exercise didn’t help either.  After shock treatments at the Mayo Clinic, his short term memory was shot and writing even a thank you note was impossible.

For those interested in a fresh look, check it out.  It’s published by Pennsylvania State University Press.

Superman of letters
Superman of letters

 

My New Novel: The Rage of Plum Blossoms

Dear Friends: My new novel–The Rage of Plum Blossoms–was just published by Kindle’s own private press. It is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon. There are a few Hemingway references and if you like a mystery with some humor, please check it out. My previous novel, Tell Me When It Hurts, had more Hemingway references as the heroine is a big fan of his. The reviews so far have been good so please see if it might appeal to you.

The book trailer will be out soon. I’ll post it when it is. It came out really well in terms of capturing the mood and it’s short–always a good thing.  Thank you so much for reading. Best, Christine

BOOK DESCRIPTION BELOW:

the-rage-of-plum-blossoms-cover

Attorney Quinn Jones is in over her head. Her husband, Jordan Chang, Annapolis grad and superstar businessman, has been found dead outside their Greenwich Village brownstone. He’s wearing clothes that aren’t his, and was last seen at a place he never went while consorting with people he shouldn’t. Since NYPD has labeled Jordan’s death a suicide, Quinn is on her own to uncover the truth. Courtrooms, Quinn knows. Chanel No. 5, horses, frizzy hair, and martial arts, she knows. Murder, she doesn’t know but she’s learning fast in order to stay alive. With a few clues to work with, including a photo of Jordan with a stunning unknown woman and a copy of a 1986 check payable to Jordan for twelve million dollars, Quinn stalks the back streets of Chinatown, haunted by the need to know what happened that day and why.

bouvier-for-books
My Bouvier is being used as a branding symbol.

Thank you again. Love, Christine