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.


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

Left bank
Eiffel Tower



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’

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. 


            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.  


            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. 


            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.






  •         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.


Instagram of The Old Man and the Sea

15 seconds of your time!

young Ernie fishing
young Ernie fishing


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
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