Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ernest Hemingway by Mary Dearborn

I think like every American school attendee, I had to read Hemingway.  I clearly remember reading The Old Man and the Sea in 8th grade, but I didn't read any other Hemingway until recently. I admit, I hated The Old Man and the Sea, in part because I didn't get it.  After reading A Farewell to Arms, and knowing that Hemingway was troubled (at best on a good day) and downright psychotic at his worst, I wanted to learn more about him as a person.

Dearborn's book was very well researched - thorough and exacting - and yet, her story was compelling and her writing style accessible.  I learned a lot, in particular, about Hemingway's relationship with his mother Grace (who he really seemed to dislike and whom he blamed for his father's eventual suicide-that's another thing I learned.  It seems that for four consecutive generations, people in each generation of the Hemingway family committed suicide!). Hemingway was not able to write very much after World War II and his physical and mental health precipitously tanked during that time period. He had everything from high blood pressure to manic episodes and, it sounds like, a psychotic break, that Dearborn attempted to link to a traumatic brain injury that Hemingway received during the Second World War.

Ultimately, Dearborn was successful in describing a man that was tremendously flawed but also tremendously compelling. It was such a great read.  Definitely worth each and every page.

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