DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — We’ll Always Have Paris

“We’ll always have Paris.”

Humphrey Bogart said that to Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 movie “Casablanca.”

He was right. I feel that way about my favorite place in the whole wide world, even if I never have the opportunity to return. I’ve been there several times over the years.

But actually I do have an opportunity.

In July, I’m splurging on what most likely will be my last visit to Paris, attending the International Hemingway Society Biennial Conference. I’ve been a Hemingway aficianado, as he would put it, since I read his short story “A clean well-lighted place” as a University of North Dakota freshman.

Although I need to take his advice — I’m not as young as I once was. That is, “iI faut d’bord durer” (first it is necessary to survive).

I’ll give it my best shot. I took this picture in 2005 along the River Seine. Everyone, inluding this couple, feels more creative and alive in Paris.

TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — Havana By (Classic) Car

I’ve never been much for bucket lists. But if I were, I’d have been able to check off a big one earlier this month. That is to see Havana, Cuba, from the backseat of one of the country’s classic American cars from the 1950s and ’60s, still operating on the streets every day.

The importation of new cars — and lots of other things — has been rare in Cuba, ever since, you know, the revolution.

But there are thousands of classic cars throughout Cuba. If you have a car here, you have a job in the country’s thriving tourism/taxi industry. Another cottage industry has sprung up around the cars with what must be dozens of shops that produce otherwise unavailable parts to keep them going.

The cars are practically the first thing tourists notice about Havana. Actually, we are not tourists anymore, we’re told we are travelers. Each of us with a special new “people to people” visa. The application for ours changed two, maybe three times before we got here. But enough about politics.

Ginny picked out “our” car from a row of classics, a 1952 Pontiac Chieftain, red and white with a ton of chrome. It was our driver and our guide in the front seats, Ginny and me in the back, sitting on what looked like the original red leather.

We’d spent the morning tooling around Old Havana and elsewhere in the city, taking in the sights like Revolution Square, where two guides got into a slight argument as to whether Fidel Castro’s last speech was two hours long or four hours long.

We’d see the U.S. Embassy, where the most recent unpleasantness has been some sort of mysterious audio attack on the people who work there. Or rather, who used to work there. The parking lot looked nearly empty.

We drove past the Floridita Hotel and Sloppy Joe’s, two of writer Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering holes, unchanged in the least by time. Later, we’d stop for a quick mojito (white rum, club soda, lime juice, sugar, crushed ice and lots of mint leaves) at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, not one of Hemingway’s favorite watering holes. And at the “most important” of Havana’s four major cemeteries, and one of my favorite stops, we’d see a large monument to Hemingway’s favorite bartender, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, whose life is celebrated annually by other barkeeps from around the world who come to Cuba each year to remember him. In life, he must have worked very, very hard for Papa Hemingway.

A very funny older woman showed us around the cemetery. At one stop, she told us we were standing, more or less, on the grave of Christopher Columbus, unmarked and covered over by a street. “After all,” she said, “Spain lost the war.”

All in all, it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time — sitting up.

At one point, our guide asked me what I thought of Havana “so far.” I said I felt like I was in a movie. Not “watching” a movie, but “in” a movie. I’ll never forget how he threw his head back and laughed —  for quite awhile.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Sun Still Rises

I’ve just reread Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” written when he was in his 20s and living in Paris.

The book is presented in the first person by the character Jake Barnes, a newspaper reporter who like Hemingway had been injured in the World War I.

I’ve always liked the novel’s first sentence, “Robert Cohen was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton,” and the last, Jake’s reply to Lady Brett Ashley’s regretful “Oh Jake, we could have had such a damned good time together.”

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

The action is set mostly in Pamplona, Spain, during the annual bullfighting festival, which still takes place. Several people were injured this year during the running of the bulls. I’ve been to Spain a couple of times, but have not visited that town let alone had that experience.

You may wish to consider reading Lesley Blume’s book “Everybody Behaves Badly,” which recounts the actual people and events upon which “The Sun Also Rises” is based.

Some of the novel is set in Paris, with references to places that still exist.

For example, in 2005 I took the above photo of the Boulevard Montparnasse with the bistros La Rotonde and Le Dome on opposite sides of the street. Not far away is La Closerie Des Lilas, a cafe/bar where Hemingway wrote much of the book.

I’m penciled in to attend an International Hemingway Conference in Paris next year. Here’s hoping circumstances permit me to do so.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Yet More Hemingway

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.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Hemingway Lives

The latest issue of the New Yorker, dated July 3, includes one of the best essays about Ernest Hemingway I have ever read: “A New Man: Ernest Hemingway — revised and revisited,” written by Adam Gopnik.

It is in part of a review of the new biography, Mary V. Dearborn’s 735-page “Ernest Hemingway.”

That one is on my book shelf waiting perhaps for this winter, when I will be more interested in reading than, say, walking around Lake Calhoun just minutes away from our place in Bloomington, Minn.

Here are some excerpts from the long piece. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the individual who is perhaps America’s greatest writer owes it to himself or herself to read it in its entirety.

Some of Gopnik’s commentary deals with Hemingway’s gender reversal fetishes, found most spectacularly in the novel “The Garden of Eden,” not published during his lifetime. The subject was considered immoral a half-century ago, but hardly raises an eyebrow now.

But, Gopnik says, “The new attempts to make Papa matter by making him a lot less Papa and a little more Mama are, finally, not all that persuasive. Hemingway remains Hemingway — the macho attitudes continue to penetrate the prose even when the gender roles get switched around. And those macho attitudes include many admirable things: a genuine love of courage, a surprising readiness to celebrate failure if it is bought with bravery, an unsparing sense of the fatality of human existence, a love of the small pleasures that ennoble it.”

He quotes a paragraph from “The Garden of Eden”:

“On this morning there was brioche and red raspberry preserve and the eggs were boiled and there was a pat of butter that melted as they stirred them and salted them lightly and ground pepper over them in the cups … He remembered that easily and he was happy with his which he diced up with the spoon and ate with only the flow of the butter to moisten them and the fresh early morning texture and the bite of the coarsely ground pepper grains and the hot coffee and the chickory-fragrant bowl of cafe au lait.”

Comments Gopnik: “The flow of the butter and the bite of the pepper” — there is more effective gender-blending in his breakfasts than in his bedrooms. The pleasure he takes in the world’s surface is more plural than the poses he chooses on the world’s stage.

“Always an epicurean before he was a stoic, Hemingway is at his worst when he is boasting and bluffing and ruling the roost, at his best when he is bending and breaking and writing down breakfast. Macho and minimalist alike, the sentences are thrilling still in their exactitude and audacity.

“Coming away even from the sad last pages of his biography, the reader feels that Hemingway earned the epitaph he would most have wanted. He WAS a brave man, and he did know how to write.”

DAVE VORLAND: Photo Gallery — Paris 2017, Part I

Bloomington, Minn., photographer Dave Vorland, along with Dorette Kerian and her granddaughter, Avery Dusterhoft, recently returned to the U.S. after a visit to Paris, “the City of Lights” (“la Ville des Lumières”). Dave has been to Paris several times, so he knows his way around quite well, as is evidenced by these beautiful shots. This is the first of two Paris galleries that will appear here.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — More Hemingway

I renewed my membership in the Hemingway Society the other day and jotted down the location and dates of its next international meeting — in Paris in 2018.

I may not get there, but I WILL continue to buy new books about Ernest Hemingway and his art.

You’d never guess he’s been dead for more than half a century.

Unlike the case with his contemporaries — among them Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald -— huge numbers of readers still buy his books, and every year experts write new biographical and analytical works about him.

I own many of them and continue to acquire new ones. So far in 2017, four:

  • “Hemingway, Style, and the Art of Emotion” by David Wyatt.
  • “Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park,” by Robert K. Elder, Aaron Vetch, and Mark Cirono.
  • “Hemingway’s Brain” by Andrew Farah. It arrived this week after being back ordered for several months. Of it prominent Hemingway authority Scott Donaldson said: “The book is first rate and should establish once and for all the persuasive medical intelligence on the much-debated subject of what destroyed Ernest Hemingway.”
  • “Writer, Sailor, Soldier Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961” by Nicholas Reynolds, ordered from Amazon today. I’m a tad dubious about this one, but it’s getting good reviews.

I wish my University of North Dakota friend and mentor, the late Dr. Robert Lewis, 1930-2013, a founder of the Hemingway Society, was still here to discuss them with me.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Sense Of An Ending

I’ve read a several books by the English author Julian Barnes, including “Through the Window: SEVENTEEN ESSAYS AND A SHORT STORY.”

The short story is about a Brit professor frustrated with his immature students as he discusses Ernest Hemingway’s “Homage to Switzerland.”

My favorite passage:

“He talked of Hemingway’s humor, which was much overlooked. And, of how, alongside what might appear to be boastfulness, there was often a surprising modesty and insecurity. Indeed, this was perhaps the key, the most important thing about the writer. People thought he was obsessed with male courage, with machismo and cojones. They didn’t see that often his real subject was failure and weakness.”

“The great writers,” he told them, “understand weakness.”

But the students, victims of the stereotypes about Hemingway, could not grasp his point.

Somehow I’ve misplaced my copy of Barnes’ most celebrated book, “The Sense of an Ending,” which won the Man Booker Prize in 2011.

It’s now been made into a movie that Dorette and I will see Wednesday at the Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis.

Generally I prefer to read, or in this case reread, the book upon which a movie is based. So I ordered a replacement copy from Amazon. It arrived in Monday’s mail.

But since I’m no longer capable of staying up all night reading, this time seeing the movie will have to come first.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Hemingway Mystique

I knew nothing about Ernest Hemingway in the fall of 1961. He had recently committed suicide in Idaho at age 60.

My freshman English class at the University of North Dakota was assigned to read his short story, “A Clean Well-Lighted Place.”

Impressed with Hemingway’s writing, I dashed off a story in his “style” and submitted it to “Tyro,” the campus literary magazine. It was rejected, I realize now for good reason.

But to use a Spanish word Hemingway liked, I became a lifelong “aficionado.”

I’m now considerably older than he was that day in Ketchum when he pulled the trigger of his favorite shotgun. One of these days I’ll be joining him in the hereafter.

My estate will then dispose of my collection of Hemingway books, not only those written by the master himself but also biographies and commentaries about him and his work.

At last count, 64 volumes were in my personal library, not including back issues of the twice-a-year journal of the Hemingway Society.

But here’s the amazing thing.

More than half a century after his death, new books about Hemingway continue to be published. Lesser remembered contemporaries — such as William Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis and Scott Fitzgerald — must be turning over in their graves.

In the past year, I’ve acquired all five of the newest books. The latest was delivered by Amazon yesterday: Terry Mort’s “Hemingway at War,” about Hemingway’s experiences as a World War II correspondent. It’s on my nightstand.

Why the continuing interest worldwide?

Perhaps, it’s because previously unknown information continues to be located. For example, Harvard University collects and makes available to scholars letters and other materials related to his life.

My favorite of the new books, David Wyatt’s “Hemingway, Style and the Art of Emotion,” was based upon his research in the Harvard archive.

And there is more stuff out there. When the last of the documents in his former house in Cuba are added to the collection, scholars will have another field day.

I sure do wish my friend, the late UND English Professor Bob Lewis, a nationally known Hemingway expert, was here to discuss with me the nuances of these newest books.

DAVE VORLAND: Photo Gallery — Late-Summer Snapshots

Photographer Dave Vorland shares these images taken this past month from near his home in Bloomington, Minn., to Itasca State Park to Ketchum, Idaho, where author Ernest Hemingway is buried.