I remember hearing once that most people who go around quoting Ernest Hemingway have never read a single word he’s written. I’ve talked about Hemingway many times on this blog so I’m obviously one of those people who is fascinated by all things Papa. But my fascination grew only after I’d read some of his books, and it continues to grow the more I read his work and the more I learn about his life outside of writing. It always amazes me when I get into a discussion about Hemingway with someone who has no trouble feeding me lines like “the first draft of anything is shit” and that they “drink to make other people more interesting”. But when I ask what their favourite Hemingway novel or short story is, they often admit that they haven’t read his work, or that they tried but just couldn’t get into it.
Ultimately I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway. The man has become bigger than his books, there’s no denying that. His name comes up in my Google News feed a lot these days, due in part to the passing of his birthday recently and the annual look-alike contest in Key West. In the last few weeks I’ve also seen articles about Hemingway’s long-lost visit to Los Angeles and the Hemingway statue that just went up in Petoskey. The only reason I’m hesitant to call this a revival is because I’m not sure that his popularity has ever really dwindled.
I’ve always been curious about the lack of adaptations of Hemingway’s work (even though I wasn’t a big fan of For Whom the Bell Tolls). I visited Hemingway’s IMDb page and discovered there have been a bunch of adaptations in recent years, including a short film based on the urban legend of Hemingway’s six-word short story: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” But the film world isn’t as fascinated with Papa as the book world. It seems as though there is a constant flow of books being written about the famous writer, both non-fiction and fiction. I’m sure Hemingway would prefer it if we were all talking about what an incredible writer he was instead of focusing on the sensational side of his personal life. But then again, maybe not. Maybe he’d just be thrilled to know that his name can still sell books, even if he wasn’t the one to write them.
Here are just some of the books on Hemingway that I’ve come across as of late.
by Andrew Farah
The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War
by James McGrath Morris
Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961
by Nicholas Reynolds
Ernest Hemingway: A Biography
by Mary V. Dearborn
(read a review from the Washington Post)
Hemingway and Italy: Twenty-First-Century Perspectives
by Mark Cirino (Editor)
Ernest Hemingway & Gary Cooper in Idaho: An Enduring Friendship
by Larry E Morris
Hemingway at Eighteen: The Pivotal Year That Launched an American Legend
by Steve Paul
Ernesto: The Untold Story of Hemingway in Revolutionary Cuba
by Andrew Feldman