Ernest Hemingway 1899 – 1961

Finca Vigia 1957. Yousuf Karsh

Literary Free Store.  Ace the test with this. There’s still something that tears at you about Ernest Hemingway, right? Who was he?  How did he do it?  How did he write and publish and become so famous, a literary celebrity, and impress you not because you had to read “The Old Man And The Sea” in grade sch00l, but because of just two stories?

“Soldiers Home” and “The Gambler, The Nun and The Radio”.  These stories stay with you.  They’re priceless.  And I wish I’d written them myself. Yeah, for sure.  Maybe I could be famous then. They’re the only reason I have left for still being interested in Ernest Hemingway.

A billion books have been written about “Papa”, but there haven’t been too many movies.  

None of his novels really impressed me.  Not really.  Now that you ask.  “Islands In The Stream” was okay. Maybe that’s because I got it as a Christmas present.  It was kind of cobbled together ten years after the guy who wrote it knelt down one morning in the front hallway of his house in Ketchum, Idaho.

Ernest Hemingway placed the butt of a double-barrelled shotgun on the floor and the other end against his forehead, reached down with his right hand and tripped the trigger and left a big mess for other people to clean up.

Finca Vigia 1960

And  how’s this for the opening of a novel published in 1926, back when there was no internet?

“Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton University.  Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn.”

That first couple of sentences is an impact statement for the literary crowd who reads books in 1926 and likes the sound of “The Sun Also Rises”.  Sort of biblical and it’s set in Pamplona, Spain.  Published as “Fiesta” in England, which was pretty lame.

“A Farewell To Arms”?  Good quips like “only seven thousand died of it in the army”, but a lot of it too something or other.

“To Have And Have Not”.  Published 1937.  “You know how it is there in the early morning in Havana…”  The novel has some merit as a cartoon.  It’s a Hemingway novel.

Same with “For Whom The Bell Tolls”.  It tolls for thee, Ernie.  But even more a bit too something or other although it sold like a bomb.

“Across The River And Into The Trees”?  No one would have bought it or read it if it wasn’t by Ernest Hemingway.  It’s a strange novel.  The esteemed author is doing as much as he can with pretty well nothing.  Colonel Cantwell.  There’s a reason that’s the guy’s name.

“The Garden Of Eden”.  I know nothing about this super-posthumous pastiche, there being no interest.

But we’re talking about Hemingway the movie.  “Papa Hemingway In Cuba”.  The question is why is this guy the subject of the picture?  What is “Papa” doing at the Finca Vigia?  Hacking at an old Remington and getting nothing out of it after winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954?  Que?

Papa isn’t even seen to be working on one of his best books, “A Moveable Feast”, published from a complete manuscript not long after he blew himself up.  He was certainly working on it in the late 50s at the Finca in Cuba.

This movie could have been much better.  That seems to be the consensus.  Adrian Sparks is the spitting image of old Hemingstein.  But although Minka Kelly tries hard she just doesn’t strike you as Mary Hemingway.  Too modern.

Not the sort of semi-matronly middle-aged refined looking woman Hemingway met in London, England during WWII and shared the rest of his life with after three previous marriages.  This version of Mary Hemingway just doesn’t seem to come across as the one.

Mary Hemingway Leading The Charge

The Finca looks finking perfect.  Hemingway’s real home in Cuba is retained as a museum by the Cuban government.  It’s a darn good reason for vacationing in Cuba, if you need a reason.  Put it on your itinerary.  Apparently, everything has been left pretty well as it was.

When you fly in tell them you want to go to the “Finca Vigia”.  Tell them we sent you.  They’ll know what you’re talking about. The sets in “Papa” are good.

The problem with the movie is Hemingway is just some sort of moody prick who’s accomplished things we just aren’t told anything about.  We’re supposed to know who he is and go from there.  What are we supposed to feel?  Movies are about feeling.  And there’s very little.

One and a half diamonds on the four diamond movie rating system.  ♦◊

Ernest Hemingway Channelling Yosemite Sam

Moving on.  Next we explain who Yosemite Sam was.  Have a beautiful evening…

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Chomolungma 2017

What’s going on and why doesn’t it stop? That’s what concerns me. How can Ueli Steck be dead? Not right. I remember Ueli. I patted him on the head when he was two years old. Today, what you don’t do is pat an infant on the head.  You can’t get near a kid to do that and it’s because of their mothers.  You’ll be killed.

Summit Snowfield

But you’re not supposed to get wasted on a so-called mountain.  And then just this week, just this month, three or five or whatever it is more aspiring humans beside Ueli wasted on old Chomo.  All I remember is it’s one mile through the Khumbu, three miles to the Lhotse face, and a mile or so up to the “South Col” as it’s affectionately called.  Then it gets worse. Get in line.  It looked absurd to me and I climbed down.  Time.

I can’t believe it’s already 30 years since Kanchenjunga.  I’m an old man now, relatively speaking.  Unless I’ve lost my mind I was up there with Scott and Veikka and a select group of other clowns.  You can’t make stuff up.  You either handle it or you don’t.  I was a tourist.

The old saw is you never step up on the absolute top-out on Kanch.  The Gods’ll kill ya. Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. Actually, I doubt it.  More than that is just too much to ask.  I trained hard but that will not stop the delirium at the top. Something I learned.

You’re in your own little world.  Maybe that’s the attraction.  Own little world.  Skill yes, but stamina.  Stamina.  And luck.  Treasure-house of the five lucks.  Having some luck, of course, is one of the five lucks.  Having a sense of humour is one of the five lucks.

Having love is one of the five lucks.  Living in two worlds is one of the five lucks.  Having a good eye is one of the five lucks and in my deranged world as I recall it’s the reason I made it down, as a complete amateur, off old Kanchenjunga.  Once is enough.

You can’t pursue things to the death.  What kind of life is that?  I guess it depends on your own, personal pathology.  That sounds good.

Veikka’s cool.  He’s still around.  Wanda Rutkiewicz.  What I remember most of all is that patch of pink.  A patch of pink way off down there in this crazy white world on an incredible day.  Wanda’s climbing suit was pink.  She’s still up there but at least people know where she is.  Cool.  Your reach exceeds your grasp.  Doesn’t matter.

They’re coming up from the Tibet side again.  The PRC is in step and the North Face is open.  You can talk about the North Face and you can wear the North Face but how many people have ever been on the North Face?

Everest North Face

I remember these comic descriptions of the north face.  It’s too funny.  “First Step” “Second Step”.  Absurd. “Kangshung Face”.  The “Pinnacles”.  “I’m afraid I’ve got some tragic news.”

It was Steck who came across American Alex Lowe on Shishapangma about a year ago. Stuff like this  from the “savage arena” always makes for interesting reading.  Lowe was wasted in an avalanche in 1999.  I wouldn’t say he was perfectly preserved. More like in not bad shape for being dead that long.  Frozen stiff.  There’s just nothing else to do but lay there until somebody finds you and in many cases nobody ever finds you.

It’s not callousness.  It’s just fact.

I managed to pick up this material at “Dollarama” for two bucks and thought I’d throw it up and see what sticks.  Have a beautiful wknd.


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D. H. Lawrence (1885 – 1930)

Lines from Lawrence’s poem “Manifesto”.

I remembered it as:

“A man is so afraid of strong feeling
And that fear is the root of all cruelty”

And the actual lines are:

“A man is so terrified of strong hunger
And this terror is the root of all cruelty”

It’s a poem about love and desire and a woman. It doesn’t make a lot of sense much of the time, but these lines hit me hard and have stayed with me. The book was a pre-owned “Penguin” paperback of Lawrence’s poetry.

There was no help for me in that era. Who would read anything by Lawrence today? But in that era I was supposed to be reading everything. Let me give you a piece of advice, my children. You can’t do it.

Last night I got “A man is so” and “strong” and “the root of all cruelty” right. I couldn’t remember “terrified” and “hunger” and “terror”.

Lawrence was very good, on the other hand. He never joined the writer’s block community.  He lived in the next block.  He just wrote. And wrote. “The Rainbow” was good. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, frankly, was a bit of a bore.  I enjoyed “The Plumed Serpent” and “Kangaroo”. And “Sons And Lovers” and “Women In Love” were good old, nineteenth century novel-ing at it’s finest.  They’re 20th Century novels but you’re not going to hold us for that, are you?

“They think I’m an ordinary man. But I am not an ordinary man.” That’s something I remember Lawrence saying, quoted in some book I was reading.  What does that tell you about D.H. Lawrence?  Not much.  Except he had no doubt about it.

It doesn’t matter now. We were afraid of that but this is the best copy we could afford while the site is down.

These tulips keep popping up too.  They’re getting into everything.


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