Tell us about your entry into "Papa's World"! How long have you been reading his works? What do you like about Ernest Hemingway's writings? How about his life? Do you think his personal life was more interesting than his fiction? Have you grown a beard? Which stage of the author's life and works do you like best/least? All these questions and whatever else comes to your mind about Ernest Hemingway is welcome here, just so long as your a fan.
I'll get the ball rolling:
In 1994, when I was 23, Hemingway's grinning, bearded face stared up at me from A.E. Hotchner's Hemingway memoir, Papa Hemingway, so after what seemed like an eternity, I started reading my grandfather's copy of this book, a paperback edition from 1966.
I was immediately hooked.
The book has an impressive conversational tone and pace. Hotchner's been accused of quoting letters and making them into conversations, but who cares? This is captivating reading! When Hotchner first meets "Papa" in 1948 we are there to witness Hemingway downing vase-sized daiquiris, and we see Hemingway robustly swimming ashore with his shorts and shirt tied in a bundle with the German "Gott Mit Uns" belt, hand held over his head while swimming using only one arm. These vignettes captured my imagination and were about as ideal a Hemingway image as one could imagine! Hotchner captures Hemingway the wise philosopher, the hurt, angry writer whose 1950 novel, Across the River and Into the Trees is roundly rejected by the critics, and we ride high alongside Papa when he storms back to the top of the heap with The Old Man and the Sea. Hotchner vividly recalls Cuba, Italy, and Spain as he accompanies Hemingway on his adventures.
After reading Papa Hemingway, my enthusiasm took off and by the next year I had read and collected most of Hemingway's works as well as the numerous biographies about him. Hemingway was my portal to the first half of the 20th Century. Through this book I discovered many of the writers, artists, and political figures of his time and became fascinated with the 1920s and '30s. Papa Hemingway might not be the ideal first book to discover Hemingway the writer, but it serves as a magnificent first book to anyone wanting to learn about Hemingway the raconteur, adventurer, and friend.
My favorite Hemingway works are the short stories, especially the Nick Adams tales. I understood Hem's style--the "iceberg method" of writing and realized without a doubt that it was for real--especially after reading "The Old Man and the Bridge." A brief story but everything you had to know about the story's character was there, but unsaid. Hem's the only author I know of who could convey what wasn't said up front.