The Hemingway Legend
Okay, there goes another hero of my youth. Line’em up: Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Lindbergh, Douglas MacArthur, Babe Ruth, now Ernest Hemingway.
Historians, commentators, columnists, television and Hollywood have taken turns setting them up, then shooting them down, one-by-one. FDR has taken some bad shots, but hangs on in my book. Lou Gehrig and Joe Dimaggio remain on pedestals as far
as I’m concerned.
It took Mary V. Dearborn, the first female historian to tackle Hemingway’s legend, to bring him down, with a loud thud. In her 730-page biography, “Ernest Hemingway,” she even tags him with some characteristics
similar to those of a current politician.
Historian Elaine Showalter was just as brutal in her New York Times review of Dearborn’s book. She said Hemingway”deserted his Paris wife, Hadley Richardson, and in three more marriages
became more demanding of women’s adulation and service, more selfish and abusive.”
Dearborn also quotes Martha Gelhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, saying: “A man must be a very great genius to make up for being such a loathsome
Whoa, that’s not the guy I read about in school.
But Dearborn and Showalter have more, writing about his alcoholism and “hair fetish.” They say his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, dissuaded him from wearing earrings,
warning him the rings would “have a deleterious effect” on his reputation. But the author’s reference to Hemingway’s “persistent confusion about gender identity” just increases our confusion.
Dearborn also said Hemingway
was “constructing myths about himself before he got off the boat” heading back to Paris after the war. And, she added, by the 1940s he was telling “tall tales” about his war experiences, “an exaggeration or lie in nearly every
After Hemingway wrote “Across the River and Into the Trees,” his friend, John Dos Passo, asked how can a man leave such garbage “on the page?”
Guess I’ll just have to focus on “The Sun Also
Rises,” Hemingway’s crisp writing style and “The Old Man and the Sea.”
There must be some legend left there.
and Imitating Football
With football season approaching on the playground, high school, college and professional levels, it might be time to consider some adjustments for the book industry. Playing football and watching
the games live or on television steals potentially millions of hours of reading time.
Until I’ve come up with an income stream for my new Twitter publishing strategy (a Page per Tweet or Tweet per Page), I suggest the book industry ally with football
rather than fight it. Authors and booksellers should produce more books about the game, its fans, players, coaches, cheerleaders, problems, costs, faults, scandals, etc.
They should also build book excitement the way football does:
by cheering about it.
How about scattering a few pages of cheers for the industry within the pages of fiction and nonfiction? There’s certainly enough creativity in the industry to handle that. Then the readers can pause a few moments, sip
a bit of wine or other favorite beverage, let out a few cheers for the pleasures of reading (or that favorite author), then get back, rejuvenated, to the plot.
Better yet, the industry could really step up the excitement by inserting pre-recorded disks
of cheers in its books. They could even include band music. Might have to add a few pennies to the book prices, but it should be cost effective.
Hey, it’s all worked for football.
I don’t see any way of bringing real cheerleaders into our reading rooms. Pity.
Where are the Big Names
When Gladin Scott announced the closing of the 53-year-old Maple Street Book Shop he tried to explain the reasons the New Orleans icon had failed in the past year. He focused on two reasons: The recent lack of a big name author
or book and political distractions to reading.
He explained that his Christmas sales depended heavily on “All the Light We Cannot See” for three straight years. “Can’t we move on, he asked.
And, Scott added, his
mostly left-leaning client base was too pre-occupied with the 2016-17 political uproar to have much time for reading books.
Both situations are curable with time, but Scott and his store
did not have any more time.
And then, of course, there is Amazon...
There was another issue which Scott did not mention.
His slogan, “Fight the Stupids,” is cute and has probably drawn a lot of attention for the store. But just as Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” description of Trump voters backfired in the presidential campaign, the “Stupids”
slogan might have turned off some prospective customers.
“Since I haven’t been there, they think I’m stupid, so I’m not going there.”
We’re told that negatives work in political campaigns, but voters and customers wear different hats. And must be addressed and counted differently.
probably never know.