Ernest Hemingway – Idol & Action Figure

The 2nd of July marks fifty years since Ernest Heminway, on a quiet Sunday morning, killed himself. It was shocking punctuation to a life lived like a challenge – full of wars, hunting, contentious marriages, travel, love, bravery, deception and words – always words.

Hemingway is one of America’s most celebrated writers, his laconic style coming to define early 20th century literature. All he did seemed infused with an intelligent masculinity that, were Hemingway alive today, his agent would surely try to copyright. Yet a not always flattering complexity lay behind the towering literary/cultural figure, one often overlooked by those seeking an idol or an action figure. See this excellent article from The Independent on Hemingway’s life and suicide. The article shows the cracks in the edifice we’ve built of him, revealing more of the man and his past.

On the other hand, if one does prefer the action figure, here are 9 ½ ways to be like Ernest:

1. Chase, or be chased by, a bull. (Accoutrements: a matador’s cape)

2. Go Fishing. (Bonus consequences: Nobel Prize and meeting Fidel Castro)

3. Grow a beard. (Ensuing compulsion: A desire to shoot large mammals)

4. Write war reportage. (You may get shot or, worse, marry a better war correspondent)

5. Say ‘I do’ four times. (Saying ‘I don’t’ only thrice)

6. Hate your mother. (Warning, if combined with no.3 you may start taking prodigious amounts of cocaine and inventing psychoanalysis)

7. Write declarative sentences in crisp style. (Success may be understated)

8. Become ‘Ideal American Male’. (May have to live in Paris and/or Cuba to accomplish this)

9. Become exemplar of, and pioneer in, new minimalist style of writing. (Warning: Nazi’s may burn your books and your parents may call it filth)

9 ½. For further authenticity, add large amounts of whisky and/or big game hunting to these suggestions.


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