The Importance of Not Being Ernest: My Life with the Uninvited Hemingway

Books & Books. May 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781642504637. $24.95. BIOG
Kurlansky (Salt: A World History) focuses on all of the coincidental intersections between his life and Ernest Hemingway’s in this multi-genre work. Part travel memoir, part history, it trapeses through France, Spain, Cuba, Idaho, and finally New York, connecting literary and moments and personal experiences in Kurlansky’s and Hemingway’s lives. Reports from Kurlansky’s and Hemingway’s careers as foreign correspondents, then expats, in Spain and Paris blend seamlessly with Kurlansky’s descriptions of regional conflicts and cultures, and each chapter is connected by watercolor stills from Kurlansky’s travel diaries, which add an authentic touch to the storytelling. Beyond his astute humor, Kurlansky handles the contradictions between “Hemingway, the man” and “Hemingway, the myth” with genuine reverence and a critical eye. He gives us another lens through which to view Hemingway’s work: geography; he argues that Hemingway himself impacted the places he traveled as much as did his writing.
VERDICT An absolute delight! Full of personality, Kurlansky’s book will enchant history, literarature, and Hemingway fans alike.
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