Hem’s 16 Essential Books for Reading

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.
Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was notoriously generous to young writers and fans seeking his input.  A.E. Hotchner who became a good confidante and friend met  Hem in the Spring of 1948 when he was dispatched to Cuba on assignment by Cosmopolitan magazine to get an article on Hem about The Future of Literature.  The magazine was putting out an issue about “the future” of everything: architecture, cars, art, etc. You get the idea.  So why not have the lion of literature give an interview on the future of literature.

Hotchner sent a note to Hem saying that he’d been sent down on “this ridiculous mission but did not want to disturb him, and if he could simply send me a few words of refusal it would be enormously helpful to the The Future of Hotchner.” A.E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway. Page 4.

 Instead, Hem rang him the next day.

“This Hotchner?” he asked

“Yes.”

“Dr. Hemingway here. Got your note. Can’t let you abort your mission or you’ll lose face with the Hearst organization, which is about like getting bounced from a leper colony.  You want to have a drink around five? There’s a bar called La Florida. Just tell the taxi.”  A.E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, page 4.

. And thus began a beautiful friendship.

Hem, Mary, and AE Hotchner
Hem, Mary, and AE Hotchner
I recently read an article that detailed how  one Arnold Samuelson hitchhiked 2,000 miles, from Minnesota to Florida in 1934 to meet Hemingway. Samuelson was trying to make a go of it as a writer and was so impressed by the short stories that he traveled to get advice from his idol.
Samuelson wrote, “It seemed a damn fool thing to do, but a twenty-two-year-old tramp during the Great Depression didn’t have to have much reason for what he did.”

A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms
 Ultimately, Samuelson found Hemingway who provided him with insights, and soon hired him on as his assistant.  Hem gave him a list of 16 books essential to any complete education.  The list is interesting to consider.

Drum roll:  the list is:

1. “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane
2. “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane
3. “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert
4.”Dubliners” by James Joyce
5. The Red and the Black” by Stendhal
6.  “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham
7. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
8. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy
9. “Buddenbrooks” by Thomas Mann
10. “Hail and Farewell” by George Moore
11.”The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
12. “The Oxford Book of English Verse”
13.  “The Enormous Room” by E.E. Cummings
14.  “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte
15.  “Far Away and Long Ago” by W.H. Hudson
164.  “The American” by Henry James
So what would make your list?  A few of the above escape me but most have stood the test of time.

The Old Man and The Sea
The Old Man and The Sea
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Paula McLain on THE PARIS WIFE

Paula McLain The Paris Wife author
Paula McLain
The Paris Wife author

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

 

Married to a man who hates mother
Married to a man who hates mother
Paris of Hemingway
Paris of Hemingway

 

I came across this footage and liked it.  You might enjoy seeing Ms. McLain talk about her research and how she went about making fiction of non-fiction.  I enjoyed it even though I want to be her!

Paula McLain The Paris Wife author
Paula McLain
The Paris Wife author

http://catholicbelle.wordpress.com/tag/ernest-hemingway/

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Interview with Hem in Spanish after Nobel Prize

This is interesting . It’s in Spanish and you can tell that Hemingway was enunciating carefully and considering his answers.  It seems that he really tried to be gracious about his fans although he was not thrilled with the publicity after the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes.

http://www.openculture.com/2013/04/ernest_hemingway_appears_on_cuban_tv_in_1954.html

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Why the Hemingway Collection is in Boston–of all Places.

The largest collection of Hemingway letters and memorabilia is in Boston, Massachusetts at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.  Mary Welch Hemingway, Hem’s fourth wife, made that selection. While Hemingway and John Kennedy never met, Kennedy respected Hemingway’s writing and person. In his own Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, Kennedy cited Hemingway’s description of courage, writing that, “This is a book about the most admirable of human virtues — courage. ‘Grace under pressure,’ Ernest Hemingway defined it.”

John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy

Hemingway was invited to President Kennedy’s inaugural address but he had to decline due to ill health. The inauguration was in January 1961 and Hem died in July 1961.  While there was a ban on travel to Cuba in 1961 due to the tension from the Bay of Pigs incident, Mary was permitted to return to the Finca, their home in Cuba, to retrieve papers and personal possessions.  The Kennedy Administration worked to make this possible. Fidel Castro personally promised safe passage for Mary so that she could collect and ship artwork, notes, letters, and beloved possessions.

Working at the Finca
Working at the Finca

There were many suitors for these prized items.  Mary maintained her connection with the White House and was the guest of President and Mrs. Kennedy at the White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners in April, 1962. Hem was honored as one of America’s distinguished Nobel laureates and Frederic March read excerpts from the works of three previous Nobel Prize winners, Sinclair Lewis, George C. Marshall, and Hemingway – the opening pages from his then-unpublished Islands in the Stream.

Jacqueline Kennedy
Jacqueline Kennedy

In 1964, Mary contacted Jacqueline Kennedy and offered her husband’s collection to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which was still in the planning stage with the intent that it be a national memorial to John F. Kennedy. The collection included drafts of various novels of Hemingway, rewrites, and a sense of how he wrote and revised.

In 1972, Mrs. Hemingway deeded the collection to the Kennedy Presidential Library and began depositing papers in its Archives.

On July 18, 1980, Patrick Hemingway, Hem’s older son with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dedicated the Hemingway Room in the JFK Library.

Patrick Hemingway 2013
Patrick Hemingway 2012 at Hemingway library

I’m going to visit it again in a few weeks. If any of you have been, I’d love to hear your impressions.  I always get a thrill seeing a photo that I haven’t seen before. It makes it all come alive for me anew.

 

 

 

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The Nobel Prize For Literature in 1954

http://exp.lore.com/post/45912087429/ernest-hemingways-1954-nobel-prize-acceptance

The Old Man and The Sea
The Old Man and The Sea
Nobel Prize to Wm. Golding
Nobel Prize to Wm. Golding

 

He did it.  He should have done it in 1942 for For Whom the Bell Tolls but the committee was divided; some felt the sexual content was “improper”; no prize was awarded at all that year.  It’s a bit sad that the award happened when it did, as Hem was not up to accepting it in person at that time and, I think, would have truly appreciated it.  He scoffed at the Nobel Prize for Literature calling it the Ignoble Prize but it mattered to him to be passed over.

Well, he won it for The Old Man and the Sea, his little novella that was to be part of a trilogy.

I'm appreciated!
I’m appreciated!

Listen to the speech on the above link (well it’s just the beginning of the speech) in Hem’s voice.  He enunciates his “t’s” and I’m not sure if it was for the purpose of being clear in this speech or if that was his mid-western accent.  (If anyone out there knows, please let us know.) He could not make it to the actual ceremony due to the two plane crashes he’d been in  and other health matters.  John Cabot read his acceptance speech in Sweden and Hem made this recording after.

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

It’s humble and beautiful–and short.

It’s funny. Words are a writer’s craft and lifeline, yet many writers are not outgoing.  Hem apparently was actually shy especially when not drinking and he was always reluctant to engage in public speaking.

Today, given the press for writers to be “out there”, I wonder how he would feel about twitter and facebook for himself.  He likely would not have done it in the later years. His privacy became more valuable but of course, by then, he was not ernest hemingway but HEMINGWAY so no need to cultivate the masses.

Hem at typewriter
Hem at typewriter

I wish he’d lived longer.

To Hem
To Hem
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