I bought Hemingway’s Boat the other day while suffering from through extraordinarily long dry spell of writing. And by Hemingway’s Boat, I mean the book. I can only wish I’d purchased the Pilar. Of course, there are a couple of problems with that. It’s in Cuba, it’s really old, and with that, probably a termite ridden and dried out hull.
Truly a shame.
Blame Cuba, blame Bush, the American government, or the infighting of politics. It all comes to a fruition of the same raison d'être. Pride, ego, self-centered motivations will continue to keep the Pilar from America where it belongs. True, Hemingway lived in Cuba for a while, but the Pilar is as much ours as his legacy is ours. Minus the fact, the he bequeathed it to his Cuban captain which in turn gave it to Castro. I did take the time to Google the Pilar to see if, perhaps, some genius had decided to build a replica. Not that I could afford to buy the replica, but one can dream.
Hemingway dreamed; I know he did. What I can interpret from deceptively simple prose and stories that follow him, there is a picture of a tortured genius suffering from a myriad of illnesses, and the truth learned from all of this is the more I would like to be him, the more I realize I would not.
His writing (most of it) was pure and simple and it was apparent his words reflected his speech and thought as he sat or stood. The prose, not flowered or filled with fancy paint, was deadly accurate graphite from the edge of a well-sharpened pencil and a keen sense of observation. Reading his work, for this writer at least, is like sitting across from him, and listening to the conversation.
I can’t help but think about why I bought this book other than it is about Hemingway, and I had just finished watching Midnight In Paris, and he is my inspiration. I don't think anyone can truly write without studying his work. Truth is, this is just another viewpoint about the man that—I think—created American literature. I don’t mean to belittle the other writers; Fitzgerald, Twain, Steinbeck, Falkner, Rand, Sinclair, Mencken and all the other before and after.
He wrote the Sun Also Rises while in his twenties. I was hanging at work and drinking beer in my twenties. It seems they were all young back then in Paris—that lost generation—but perhaps it is only a perception like so many things fiction.
Today it seems people in their twenties don’t read, or think, or create, or write like this today. Maybe they are too busy thinking about how to make money; something EH didn’t need to worry about considering he married a Southern heiress who supported him and his bohemian life style. If I had that money behind me, I am sure I would write more often but this thing called “making a living” sometimes gets in the way. Even with my imagination, I would not write like Hemingway but I can imagine not having to worry about paying the bills and having nothing else to do but sit in a quiet bar with a rum and a laptop alone in my thoughts. Wonderful comes to mind along with a few other words.
Still, I believe my love, or maybe I should say respect, of Hemingway’s work stems from an amalgamation of things. I don’t enjoy everything he writes, and I don’t think anyone does. What work of an author do you read and do you enjoy every publication? Nevertheless, Hemingway and I share a commonality among men; fishing, hunting, writing, the love of a good woman. It’s my opinion EH brought more to this world than the shaping of writing technique and deceivingly simple literature. The reality is his work was complex and a long way from simple.
Many of us spend weekends on the water, fishing, or hunting. Truth is he was a founding father (along with a couple of other writing legends) of sport fishing—a multibillion-dollar industry. In August 1940, the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame named Ernest Hemingway as Vice President, a title held until his death in 1961. In 1998, the IGFA inducted him. He was a fighter, a brawler, a tough guy, a lover, a writer, a drunkard, but most of all, troubled and clinically depressed.
Would the fishing world have survived without him? Probably. Would we still read, write, and study literature without Hemingway’s influence? Of course. But you have to ask at what loss. I don’t think he ever found the pinnacle he searched for, the peace or the love he desperately wanted. I believe there is a man we will never see, and perhaps we don't want to. I also think his search resulted in his pain and was the driving force behind the person and the reason why he gave it up in Ketchum Idaho in 1961. I cannot imagine that kind of pain, that kind of desperation. I cannot imagine things going that wrong. Then again, I am no Hemingway.