I’ve been reading biographies of Ernest Hemingway, dead for more than half a century but who remains an author who can sell books, his own as well as those of scholars trying to interpret his life to the readers of 2017.
I’ve read six new ones so far this year, including most recently Nicholas Reynolds’ book, “Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961: Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy.” It’s 357 pages long, including 88 pages of sources, acknowledgements, permissions, endnotes and index.
Despite the documentation, I’m not completely sold on the Reynolds book. It’s more than OK but contains too many qualifiers such as “could have been” and “perhaps.” Reynolds (not to be confused with Michael Reynolds, among the best of the earlier biographers) pretty much concedes Hemingway was never an actual spy, although he knew many of them beginning with the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
I have another unread biography on my night stand: Lesley M.M. Bloom’s EVERYBODY BEHAVES BADLY,” centered on the real life events that resulted in Hemingway’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises.”
After that, my goal is to reread “The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway,” all 650 pages of them, first published by Scribner’s in 1938 and re-issued in 1987 by Hemingway’s sons, John, Patrick and Gregory, with additional until then unpublished stories.
That should get me through the year.
As always, I wish my Hemingway mentor, the late University of North Dakota English Professor Robert Lewis, a founder of the Hemingway Society, was here to guide me through this reading project.