July 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ernest Hemingway!

"All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened."

Thanks to Overlook Press’s Twitter feed, I learned this morning that today was Ernest Hemingway’s birthday. It kind of bizarrely put me in a better mood following a discouraging morning; I really love Hemingway. I think its partly because I’m Cuban (and he did love Cuba/ writing about and in Cuba), partly because I love Fitzgerald (and the friendship/ hatred between them), partly because I’m fascinated by Modernist literature and writers (American Modernism in particular), and partly because I just love (most of) his writing.

I’ve recently been rereading a bunch of his short stories in an old copy of The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories from my Dad’s bookshelf. The title story is really incredible in a uniquely Hemingway-way; as the narrator, a writer, quickly approaches death while on an African safari, he looks back on his life with anger and bitterness over what he has neglected to accomplish. As with so much of his writing, Hemingway himself is always only just beneath the surface of his fiction in this story.

It is another story of his, however, that I always find so powerful in its simplicity (like a lot of his writing). “A Day’s Wait” is only two pages long, but I remember first reading it years ago and it always sticking with me. Rather than listen to me summarize it, I say take the two extra minutes to read the story here. It is prime example of how Hemingway has a way of taking simple, mundane things (whether it is the thorn that ultimately kills the narrator of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” or the confusion over temperature measurements in “A Days Wait”) and turning them into meditations on life and death (but mostly death). I’m glad you were born today, Ernest! (And that you wrote so much before you killed yourself.)

(Image via)


  1. Hey, Lianne. I enjoyed this; I had no idea it was Hemingway's birthday. I've never really warmed to his writing--blame The Sun Also Rises sophomore year--but I really loved "Hills Like White Elephants" which surprised me. I think I prefer his style in a short story format.

    A friend of mine named one of her stories after one of his "A Clean Well-Lit Place" and I thought of you.

  2. Its funny - I also didn't care for The Sun Also Rises when we read it with Ms. Foley sophomore year. And then I read it a few years later and fell in love with it. He is definitely one of those writers who means completely different things depending on your age/ stage of life. (and I love A Clean Well-Lit Place!)

  3. Hey, Lianne, I found Hemingway’s photo, and then, your blog. What kind of Cuban are you? I am Cuban, made in Cuba, that came 21 years ago from Spain, where I was living. I know my English is not as good as yours, I know it, so I imagined you were born here. However, I am an educated person, and also, a writer that loves Hemingway’s novels and short stories. Have you ever been in Finca Vigía, in Cuba? After reading all Papa´s book, in Spanish, and after returning from Africa, I read My Brother Ernest Hemingway by Leicester. Then, I wanted to visit the famous place. I went with a friend of mine. Once there, at the same time the house was been visited by a group of French tourists, I was kicked out of La Finca because I was Cuban. It was sad. Once in USA, I went to the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West and you have no idea how many wrongs things I did there, including touching his Picasso´s cat, sitting on his bed, etc. It looks foolish, I agree. By I cannot avoid it. Finally, today I read “A Day’s Wait”, thanks to you. Could you, please, forgive my grammar mistakes? LM

  4. ...but I cannot... Sorry

  5. We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.

    Your web site offered us with valuable information to work on.
    You've done an impressive process and our entire neighborhood will be thankful to you.

    Feel free to surf to my webpage Spazio Kovan

  6. I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your
    information. Your article has really peaked my interest.
    I am going to book mark your blog and keep checking
    for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed as

    Feel free to surf to my web page men's victorinox swiss army

  7. What's up to all, the contents existing at this site are actually awesome for people experience, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

    Also visit my web blog ukad.Org

  8. My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was totally
    right. This post actually made my day. You cann't imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

    Also visit my webpage rc hobbies now

  9. Great blog here! Additionally your web site a lot up very fast!
    What web host are you using? Can I get your associate hyperlink
    for your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as
    yours lol

    Feel free to visit my webpage; rc helicopters

  10. Simply wish to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in
    your post is just spectacular and i could assume you are an expert on
    this subject. Fine with your permission let
    me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable

    my site :: vestal

  11. What's up, this weekend is pleasant designed for me, as this occasion i am reading this impressive informative piece of writing here at my house.

    Visit my web site; women's stuhrling watches