Paying respects.

I haven’t read every word Ernest Hemingway wrote, but I’ve read enough to know that he was the real deal. A king among knaves, on the page at least.

In my flippant teens and twenties, I fatuously waved him aside as Fitzgerald’s lesser rival. But I was an idiot. I reconsidered after revisiting his work in advance of our visit to Hemingway House in Key West  and again when we tracked him down to his boyhood haunt of Petoskey, Michigan. There, we peered longingly into the windows of the Hemingway museum which, unfortunately, was shuttered on a Sunday afternoon.

He was what some called “complex”. Or maybe he was just brutish, pompous, boorish, narcissistic…pick one or all of the above.

But the writing!

One of my favorite Hemingway quotes: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. And this he did, over and over again. If, like me, you’re not enamored of A Farewell to Arms, move on to The Sun Also Rises or discover To Have and Have Not. Still unimpressed? Listen to Donald Sutherland  reading The Old Man and the SeaAnd, should you remain unmoved by that, go directly to For Whom the Bell Tolls. It is, unquestionably, a masterpiece of American literature.

Perhaps he bled too much at that typewriter. Or had one too many concussions (CTE?) along with far too much booze and oh so many personal demons. After 1960 he found he could no longer write, and in July of 1961, he blew his brains out with a shotgun.

I wasn’t sure I felt his presence in Key West, or in Petoskey, but I felt it this week in Sun Valley where we visited his memorial next to Trail Creek. As literary pilgrimages go, this one is an A+.




Looks like many others have celebrated communion with Papa at his Ketchum Cemetery gravesite:


When we arrived at the Hemingway Memorial we encountered one other pilgrim, a young man lost in thought in this lovely, silent place. I asked him if he was a fan and he nodded, affirmatively. “What’s your favorite?”, I asked. He didn’t miss a beat. “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Definitely the right answer.






About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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3 Responses to Paying respects.

  1. dizzyguy says:

    Papa. The undisputed grand master of word economy. Have read it all in search of one word that did not belong – fail. Truly one of the American greats.

  2. Katherine says:

    Ah, A Farewell to Arms holds a place in my heart if only for this quote: “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

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