"Oh no!", Mon exclaimed. It was the way she said it that got my attention and I can still hear it today. It was as if someone in the family had died. So I had to ask, "Who was he?" "Oh, a writer and sportsman", she replied. Mom was an avid reader, we went on talking about Hemingway for a while and books she had read of his, I cannot recall now which ones they were but I think most of the early ones which she read at first publication. She felt his books were too old for me then so it would have to wait before I was to be introduced to Hemingway's writing.
Fortunately, the next school year I got an literature teacher who also was a Hemingway fan but the only book we could read was "The Old Man and the Sea". School text censorship was real in those days and the other writings of Hemingway were not suitable for high school students to read. We were so into authority in those days that we never thought of going to the library or a book store and find out what the fuss was all about. That all would be busting loose in a couple of years and questions authority we did in a big way.
The big break in literature for me, I hate to say, was Payton Place. I had gone to live with my aunt and uncle, riding on the bus to were they lived, someone left a copy on a seat. I scarfed it and kept it hidden under the mattress in my room, sneaking it out at night to read. From there I did go on to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and so many more. From them, I learned about the world and formed most of my beliefs even today. Maybe they should have kept the books away from a young mind, it was from Hemingway that I got idea to find out what "making the earth move" was all about. Anyway, I have been thinking it is time to go back and reread some of them, the books from the beginning.
I guess someting of the mystic about Hemingway for me is the fact that both he and my father were born in the same year and both served in WWI. Not together, my dad was a teamster in France, hauling supplies to the front and casualites back. My dad died when I was three so I never really knew him nor really much about him until recently. He came back from the War and started ranching on the family homestead in Colorado. I had the chance recently to meet some of the people he grew up with and it was a real awakening to who the man realy was, but that is another story. But, back as a teenager, Hemingway became sort of a father figure but ironically after his death also. I could have hopped a bus and gone to shake his hand up until that day.
Finally, we all know it wasn't an accidental gun shot and I have always not understood that. I have read all the accounts of those final years, expect for "Running with the Bulls" by Valerie Hemingway. Why? When seemingly you have everything to live for and admiration of milions, not to speak of a family that couldd benefit from your presents if nothing else. I never understood until recently. He was not at the top of his game, the body and mind were failing him that I knew before but the effect it really has on you didn't hit me until the last year so. I have been battling cancer for the last two years but don't worry I'm not about to do myself in, quite the opposite I have much to do before I sleep. But, I could see from the depths of despair during chemo and radiation how a person might feel that all is lost, it has a deep empty feeling to it thay you have to experience to fully understand. Unfortunately, Hemingway did not have the best support group around him nor did they really understand what was going on.
Anyway, that is my personal take on Hemingway the man. Like I said, I going to read the writings all over again and relive the memories.