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Hunting with Hemingway


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This is a disappointing narrative based on audiotaped accounts left by Hemingway's younger brother Leicester (himself a writer overshadowed by Ernest) and revealed here by Leicester's daughter. These tales, ostensibly related by Leicester to an anonymous professor researching the Hemingway mystique, are said to be ones "Papa never made public." The death-defying feats by Leicester and Ernest in Africa include escaping from a pack of man-eating wild dogs, killing a cobra that hovers inches from Leicester's head, even planting explosives on Nazi U-boats. Through listening to these tapes, an epiphany comes to Hilary about her father, who, like Ernest and his father before him, committed suicide: "Dad's stories are all that's important.... The stories are for you, for me, for everyone, to know my Dad as he really was, a man who had the courage to love life." Never before able to forgive his suicide, Hilary "for the first time... could mourn my father." The entire work seems apocryphal, which is forgivable; and the adventure stories themselves, while predictably misogynist, are relatively absorbing, but two factors ruin the integrity of this work. First is the mocking portrayal of the literature professor on the tape: he seems to have no manners, no real life experience and ridiculously symbolic interpretations of Hemingway stories. The stereotype is overdone to the point that few readers will sympathize with Hilary's father, a man who is hostile to even the most basic questions about himself and his brother. Second, while some of the information documented is important for anyone wishing to learn more about Hemingway's family, Hilary's frame narrative about her discovery of the tapes is so insipidly written that it reads like a work of young adult fiction. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Years after the suicide of her father, Leicester, Hemingway received an audiocassette that recorded tales of his exploits with brother Ernest. Here she relates some of those tales and her own struggle to come to terms with her father's death. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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