Sunday, September 17, 2006


I just finished reading a biography of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway is the writer who taught me that the "classics" weren't all boring and irrelevant to my life. The Old Man and the Sea is among my favorite novels of all time. Some of Hemingway's short stories, such as "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" or "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" are perfect gems. Hemingway wrote, perhaps, the best single-paragraph scene ever put on paper. It is headed "Chapter V" in The Short Stories, from the Scribners paperback collection.

But despite Hemingway's talent, and the ferocious discipline that he brought to his writing, Hemingway himself was not a terribly admirable man. He was certainly immature in his personal life. He was married four times and sometimes seemed to be looking for a new love as soon as he married the last one. And although he loved his children, he often left them when they were very small. He was also something of a braggart. Certainly, he often backed up his brags, but it's pretty clear that he talked a better show than he put on at times. And, he was often petty in his relationships with other writers.

I find that I can't admire Hemingway's personality, but I do respect his work and the effort that he put into it. I usually cannot see that same level of committment in my own writing life.

In the end, of course, Hemingway committed suicide, just like his father. He used a shotgun. I found out in his biography that, Mary, his wife at the time, had the gun taken apart and buried in an undisclosed location(s) in the hills of Idaho. Wouldn't that be an intersting find?


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

My favorite way of using the word suicide is "Taking The Hemingway."

Charles Gramlich said...

A perfect line for it. I'll have to remember that one.