Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hemingway's Boat, Everything He Loved In Life, And Lost, written by Paul Hendrickson, begins as an unbiased view of Ernest Hemingway, his boat, Pilar and his life in Key West and Cuba.  Perhaps two thirds of the way into the book, Hendrickson, who was doing such a good job telling the story of Hemingway, the talented, disturbed and desperately unhappy pillar of 20th century American literature, and his beloved boat, gives in to sensationalism, drifting into the life of E.H.'s transgender son, Gig.  What began well, digressed unnecessarily towards tabloid-ism, into another sad Hemingway life which should have, and could have, been told in another book. Hendrickson swerves back on course towards the end of the book, returning to Ernest Hemingway's end of life tragedy in Ketchum, but never really finishes fleshing out the saga of how Pilar the boat, Hemingway the fisherman and Hemingway, the author were connected.                                                                                 I did, however, love reading every word about Ernest H.'s obsession with his boat, fishing, Cuba and the ocean he knew well and loved.  The stories told by those who knew him and fished with him in both Key West and Cuba were well researched and told with heart and humanity.  When Hendrickson resisted the temptation to pass on sensationalized, peripheral family information, the book was well worth the read.  He almost did unbiased look at a controversial man and author, Hemingway, a master of clean, clear prose, yet not, ultimately, the master of his own mind.

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