The late scholar’s final volume of his meticulously reported and yet still almost novelistic Hemingway biography. Like the work of Robert Caro on LBJ, this five-part opus amounts to nearly a career lifetime of effort.
by Gioia Dilberto
Long before Woody Allen put some of the Hemingway myth on the screen, the story of Ernest and Hadley in Paris, of their doomed love, when they were so young and broke and reputedly happy above the sawmill in Montparnasse, was brought fully alive in this 1992 biography.
by Paula McLain
A hugely popular success (and somewhat less so critically) of roughly the same material mined by Dilberto—only here from the fictional side of things. McLain can hit a cliché but when you turn a page she’ll hit an emotional truth with some dialogue or an invented scene that the working biographer, constrained by his “art of fact,” is denied.
by William Kennedy
The old contemporary master, William Kennedy, known for his Albany cycle of novels, weaves a different kind of tale that starts with a night in the Floridita bar in Havana in 1957 when Hemingway walks in. It’s a send-up portrait that’s also dead-on. The novel moves through a gansterly Cuban revolutionary swirl and yokes in not only Hemingway but Bing Crosby and Fidel and the civil rights movement in America and the mayor of Albany—and that’s only to say a few.
by Ernest Hemingway
Oh, we have to hear somewhere in this list from the man himself, and to my mind there isn’t a better place to encounter Hemingway’s short work than in this full collection, which, when it came out, in 1987, a quarter century after Hemingway’s suicide, included seven pieces not previously published. In the brief foreword, to which all three Hemingway sons signed their name, you can hear the collective longing to have their lost papa beside them once again.
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