H is for Hemingway


 There could be no other for me today.  Probably no other writer has influenced me more, no other writer provided me with a new world into which I could escape, even for a short time, than Ernest Miller Hemingway.

He’s almost too big for this short daily post.  Foreign correspondent in Paris – dream job.  The 1920’s – best time.  I admired his daring adventures from the safety of my armchair.  I forgave him his multiple spouses, chalking it up to human weakness.  I read “A Moveable Feast” shortly before I left home for my junior year of college in Switzerland, and re-read it several times during that year.   “A Moveable Feast” wasn’t even published until 1964, three years after Hemingway took his own life.  The book was derived from memoirs, pulled together from a trunk full of notebooks Hemingway had filled during his years in Paris.

At a good café on the Place St.-Michel, Hemingway orders a café au lait, then a rum St. James (and another), then some oysters with a “strong taste of the sea,” washed down with a carafe of dry white wine, all while writing, warm and drunk and dry inside the café.

Lean, hard, narrative prose, said the New York Times.  Spare and tight, learned from his years as a war journalist.  Making the words count.

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” (EMH)