Happy Birthday, Ernest Hemingway

Remembering Ernest Hemingway as “Papa” fishing in the streams was changed for many, including myself, by Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife; Woody Allen secured that image in the movie, “Midnight in Paris.” Today is Hemingway’s birthday.

Julie Bosman notes in her New York Times article – To Use and Use Not – that a new edition of A Farewell to Arms has just been published with Hemingway’s 39 (or maybe 47) different endings for the book –

“… an attempt to redirect some of the attention paid in recent years to Hemingway’s swashbuckling, hard-drinking image.”

You can decide if he “got the words right.”

Hemingway spent his winters on a farm in Cuba from 1939 to 1960, writing Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) and The Old Man and the Sea (1953), which won the 1953 Pulitzer prize; he also won the 1954 Nobel prize for literature.

If you are among the Americans planning to travel to Cuba to connect with the culture – the newest place to tour – this might be a good time to revisit Hemingway’s legacy.

Related Article: Review of “The Paris Wife”


In a funny confrontation between two “wild and crazy guys,” Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel will have you thinking they are the Lunatics in their namesake novel. In spite of myself, I ended almost every chapter laughing out loud.

Taking turns being idiotic, each author alternates writing chapters as Philip, the happy owner of a pet store called “The Wine Shop,” and Jeffrey, a forensic plumber, angry at the world for getting in his way. Of course, their paths cross.  In a ridiculous sequence of random events that innocently starts with a soccer game, the two become embroiled in a series of mishaps that has them chased by the police, terrorists, bears, and pirates.  They almost destroy the world, and then put it back together in better shape than before their exploits.

The language can be crude and insensitive; think Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. If you don’t like your laughs rough and bawdy, or if you are a Prius driver, this book may not be for you.   On the other hand, if you are thinking about taking one of those new cultural vacations to Cuba, you might want to read the book before you go.  Both authors get carried away, and the side bars – although funny – seem to run-on, but if you decide to skip through some of it, be sure to check out the Republican National Convention at the end (if you are a Republican, you may not be as amused).

Lunatics is quick silly diversion; I wondered which author wrote each character (in an NPR interview, Dave Barry admits to being the forensic plumber), but I knew they must have had fun writing their plotless wonder together.