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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hemingway Raising Hell

Reading Hemingway's Boat makes you cringe. Its about his years during the thirties hanging out in the Keys and Cuba and fishing and shooting sharks with a Tommy Gun and throwing grenades and drinking just about everything he can get his hands on. Its about the way he cheated on Pauline his second wife with Martha  his third wife and the way he argued with Pauline hours before she died and then dumped Martha for Mary his fourth wife. Then he really got going.

Mary took abuse that was almost on the level of a slave. Hemingway hit her. He called her a slut and just about anything else he could think of. He brought in whores and drank with her and her mother and then had sex with the whores. He brought a twenty one year old girl to stay at his house who he wanted to marry. He wrote letters threatening reviewers. He abused his publisher. He ignored his kids. He kept fishing and drinking and hanging out in Cuba, bragging about his fantastic Marlin catches. He got older.

And the older he got the worse he became. Paranoia nipping at the corners he saw enemies all around him. He continued drinking and abusing his wife and just about anybody else who was around him. He lived like a King with sycophants filling in and doing all the shit work while he wrote and fished and drank and cavorted and spewed. Really it is amazing because he had to be the supreme asshole of all time and this is what makes writers squirm because there is a little bit of Hemingway in every writer.

Maybe it is the pressure. Maybe it is the mind twisting contortion  of writing. Thinking you are never good enough or writing enough or successful enough. And these things plagued Hemingway with real psychosis that eventually drove him to kill himself. But before he did he raised hell in the way many writers before him have and still do.

Maybe he just did it a little better...or maybe he set the bar.

Books by William Hazelgrove