Tag Archives: hemingway

COVID-19 and Paris

Hemingway and Bumby
Hemingway and Bumby

Elmore Leonard, who admired Ernest Hemingway, and looked to him as a role model, once lamented that the famous author “didn’t have a sense of humor.”

I disagree.

I’ve been busy during our global time-out. I’ve been reading new fiction, as well as re-reading old favorites, including Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, a series of vignettes of Hemingway’s early days as an author while starting a family in 1920s Paris.

This little book cannot be drained; every time I read it, I discover more treasures. And if the honorable Mr. Leonard were alive, I could tell him Hemingway displays a wicked sense of humor in A Moveable Feast.

Let’s look at a few examples.

The metaphor that links the book’s poignant scenes together is the sumptuous food and drink of Paris. Here’s how Hemingway launches our little tour:

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

That should whet any appetite. It certainly works for me.

Hemingway depicts Paris as a sprawling, lusty muse for all artists. In those days, he knew no greater joy than parking himself at a little café and setting a freshly sharpened pencil to his notebook. Pure writerly bliss. But every paradise has its snake, and for Hemingway, it’s the aggressive follower:

“Hi Hem. What are you trying to do? Write in a café?”

Your luck had run out and you shut the notebook.

Other artists, and especially writers, cannot evade Hemingway’s sharp, scrutinizing eye:

Wyndham Lewis wore a wide black hat, like a character in the quarter, and was dressed like someone out of La Boheme. He had a face that reminded me of a frog, not a bullfrog but just any frog, and Paris was too big a puddle for him.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his melancholic wife Zelda get much scrutiny. Scott and Zelda had what you could call a rough and tumble, bittersweet relationship. When Zelda informs Scott she considers his, um, manhood inadequate, Scott looks to Hemingway for reassurance, which he kindly offers:

“You’re perfectly fine,” I said. “You are O.K. There’s nothing wrong with you. You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened. Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues and then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile.”

“Those statues may not be accurate.”

“They are pretty good. Most people would settle for them.”

Ah, the healing power of art.

Hither Came Conan: The Best Conan Story Written by REH Was….?

Robert E. Howard Whether you’re a long-time fan of Robert E. Howard or a newcomer, you’ll enjoy this series on Howard’s stories at Black Gate. I love the premise of this project:

Welcome to a brand new, Monday morning series here at Black Gate. Join us as a star-studded cast of contributors examine every original Conan story written by Robert E. Howard: and tell you why THAT is the best of the bunch. Read on!

Think Conan stories are for kids, or are little more than escapist fiction? Think again. Here’s a piece I wrote for the Abbeville Institute on the depth of meaning lurking in the shadows of Howard’s Conan tales. And the thought-provoking worldview Howard infused into these highly entertaining pieces are supercharged with forceful, visual writing reminiscent of Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, and Ernest Hemingway. As Stephen King put it, “Howard’s writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks.” Author James Scott Bell once said of Howard, “His writing was big and wild and full of action.” Enjoy!

Best Fiction and Writing Blogs

Ernest Hemingway

The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary heavyweight. Inspired by ernie.

P. S. Hoffman3 Vital Keys to Every Great Horror Story
Kendra BoersenRevision, With A Side Of Existential Crisis
Emily Raper5 Misconceptions About Writers
Annika PerryWrite From Your Heart
Lionelson Norbert YongWhy I Chose Fantasy As My Genre
E. Michael HelmsSense and Sensibility [Not what you think!]
D. Wallace PeachThe Word Police
Ernest HemingwayHow to Write Fiction

Best Fiction and Writing Blogs

hemingway-boxer

The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary heavyweight. Compiled by ernie.

C.S. WildeFree Scene Planer
John HartnessMusic to write by
Miguel Olmedo MorellThe Day I Filmed Tolkien’s Grandson
Fionn GrantThere Is No Original
PenstrickenA Fight Scene Worth Reading
Janice HardyBackstory: Finding the Right Balance
Alice OsbornWhy I Love Editing
Ernest Hemingway Seven Tips on How to Write Fiction

“If you’re a writer, declare yourself the best writer!”

Here’s an inspirational scene from one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris. Gil Pender, a young writer on vacation in Paris, climbs into a cab at the stroke of midnight, and when he gets out, he finds himself in 1920s Paris, where he encounters many literary and artistic legends. In the following clip, Gil gets to discuss writing with Ernest Hemingway. Gil can’t resist asking for a small favor:

Gil: Would you read it?

Ernest Hemingway: Your novel?

Gil: Yeah, it’s about 400 pages long, and I’m just looking for an opinion.

Ernest Hemingway: My opinion is I hate it.

Gil: Well you haven’t even read it yet.

Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate it all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

Gil: You know what it is? I’m having a hard time getting somebody to evaluate it.

Ernest Hemingway: You’re too self-effacing; it’s not manly. If you’re a writer [slams table with his fist], declare yourself the best writer.

Ha! Yeah, that sounds like Ernie. And he’s right: It takes more than a little self-confidence to put your heart into a story and hit that “Send” key. You don’t know what the person judging your work is going to think. That’s scary — definitely not for the weak of heart.

Jami Gold recently addressed this in a great blog post titled “What Helps You BE a Writer?”:

Outside of any writing skill that we may or may not have, we also bring other aspects of ourselves to the writing-journey table. We might have personality traits that help us want to be a writer, such as a love of storytelling or a desire to entertain, educate, or inspire others.

Or we might have personality traits that help us stick with writing, even during the bad times. As Delilah mentioned in her post, stubbornness (tenacity, perseverance, determination, etc.) ranks high in many of the replies.

We might have enough of an ego that we think others are interested in what we have to say. Or we might have a desire to prove ourselves worthy of being listened to.

Jami and Ernie are on to something: If you’re going to write, go big. Go brazen. And keep going.