In my early twenties, I went through the obligatory Hemingway phase that seems mandatory of so many youthful American males. With the exception of one novel, I read everything he ever published including a book of his by-lines from an early journalism career with various papers such as the Kansas City Star. As I began to make my way through his repertoire of writings, I faced the fear that one day I would run-out of “new” Hemingway material; so I set aside one of his most popular novels for a time when I would “need” a final Hemingway fix.
Now I’ve gone and done it. A few days ago, I opened For Whom the Bell Tolls. I have a habit of reading three or four books at a time, so it probably shouldn’t surprise me that I pulled this final Hemingway from the shelf. I’m also currently reading Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer, Common Sense by Thomas Paine (re-reading), Chris-In-The-Morning: Love, Life, and the Whole Karmic Enchilada by Louis Chunovic and Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.
Maybe I just wanted to read about food. I always enjoyed the manner in which Hemingway took me on a culinary pilgrimage; over the years I’ve even created some of my favorite recipes for duck and escargot from descriptions in his books. While my grandmother instilled a taste for roasted duck, Hemingway made my absolute favorite food snails broiled in the shells with butter and shallots. I can eat them a dozen at a time and I proudly admit I’ve already passed the predilection on to my two young sons.
My wife became a little concerned when she saw me reading my “final” Hemingway the other day and she asked me – what does this mean? I really don’t know. Maybe I’m tired of the burden of intellectual tragedy that accompanies reading philosophy; perhaps I want a baser form of tragedy that comes from primal urges of masculinity and “men doing what men must do” as it can only be found in the every-man of Hemingway. Then again, maybe I’m just hungry. - DN