Category Archives: Art

The looooooooong story of Hemingway

I’m reading a biography of Hemingway because he was in that exotic “club” of American artists living in France post WWI. I’ve always wanted to time travel and join that club. Together we’d smoke, drink and talk big at Parisian cafes. We’d be witty and cool, and we’d make James Joyce the butt of our jokes.

Which brings me to why I generally dislike biographies.

Must be a biography.

Must be a biography.

They’re long. Bio writers, even those with modern tales, tend to start in the year 1678, because after describing the lives of all the subject’s ancestors, we are sure to better understand the subject. That context is the difference between a Good Book Award and a Really, Really Good Book Award.

Your hero is no hero. Typically creative geniuses are rather unpleasant on a personal level. No shock there. But Hemingway? That guy was a complete ass. Insecure, bombastic, lying, manipulative, macho. He would’ve have ruined my cool little French writing club.

The poor mothers. Character flaws are blamed on Mommy Dearest. In Hemingway’s case, family and friends freely shared stories about Hemingway’s hatred. Grace Hemingway was pretentious and domineering. She tried to make young Ernest a girl, letting his hair grow and keeping him in his sister’s clothes. She belittled and berated her husband. She had an affair with a servant girl. She built her own lake home, separate from the family’s lake home, to get away from the chaos of having a family.

On behalf of mothers everywhere, I say to the author, if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all and go to your room!

Too many characters. Certainly we meet a lot of people during a lifetime, and that’s when bio writers should use a filter. Otherwise, readers need a chart to keep track. Good luck enjoying this entirely invented passage, … Hemingway wrote to Phillip Hanstigya and recollected times with their friends Collin “Moose” Frundefrin and Robert “Nippy” Jonwhiler. This letter is significant because it alludes to Frundefrin’s attraction to Jonwhiler’s sister, Nellie Jonwhiler Hiersomby, who as you’ll recall, praised Sunny’s writing over Ernest’s. The letter ended up in the hands of Percy Inclandoesme. Percy refused to forgive Allen Barfecut. Hemingway laughed. That Allen was quite a jokester. Even Ralph Treshinweig agreed.

Still, Hemingway really did say this:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Whenever I read that quote, I return to admiration.

I’m only half way through Hemingway’s biography. Let’s hope great quotes outweigh misdeeds.


The Greatest Gatsby

Dear Director Luhrmann and Author Fitzgerald,

Thank you for crafting both a novel and a movie with masterful dialogue. I’ve used many of your words in the following apology, because your words are better than mine. Clearly.

Many thanks,

Shelley T., author of the forthcoming novel The Graham Cracker Plot.


To: Baz Luhrmann, The Great Director

Dear Baz,

There was a green light flashing in the mist. It represented hope – my hope. Weeks ago, I’d hoped your interpretation of The Great Gatsby would stink and sink. I couldn’t fathom an American classic being twisted into a 3D rap music video. I couldn’t stand the thought of our Jay Gatsby – yes, he’s one of us, one of the dreamers and believers – being played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s working so hard for his Lifetime Achievement Award.

I was wrong, a silly little fool. That’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, Baz, a beautiful little fool. But it takes two to make an accident like this: me with my prejudgment and you with the black cloud of Moulin Rouge.

Cheers, Leo. Cheers.

Cheers, Leo. Cheers.

Baz, your Gatsby was a triumph. There’s something very sensuous about it – overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into my hands right there in the theater, right next to the popcorn.

And so I apologize to you, Baz. (And to Leo, who’ll get that lifetime award if he ever looks older than 30.) Understand, Baz, that sometimes I’m a careless person, smashing up things and creatures and then retreating back.

Gatsby lovers, believe in Baz’s green light. It represents his hope and dream to make a better Gatsby, to, in fact, make the Greatest Gatsby.

Realized dreams are so rare, yet we chase them. Baz understands dreams elude us, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. We beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Many apologies,

Shelley T., author of the forthcoming novel The Graham Cracker Plot