Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hemingway

Happy Birthday to Ernest Hemingway, the short-story writer, novelist, and journalist. Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Cicero, Illinois––a part of which became Oak Park in 1902, where his family lived. Hemingway was part of the 1920's American expatriate community in Paris known as "the Lost Generation," as described in his memoir A Moveable Feast (1964). He had a turbulent romantic life, and was married four times. He also lived (rather famously) in Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba. In 1953, Hemingway received the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea (1952). He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

Hemingway commited suicide on July 2, 1961, near Ketchum, Idaho.

Here's something from the short story "Up in Michigan," which is set in Horton's Bay, not too far north of here. Hemingway's family had a house on Walloon Lake, where some of his relatives still live. When driving north on U.S. 31 along the Lake Michigan shoreline, it is still possible to see a bit of what Hemingway wrote about in the so-called "Nick Adams Stories." But the magnificent elms are gone; long-lost to disease, and time and development have taken a toll on what is locally called "Hemingway Country":

Horton's Bay, the town, was only five houses on the main road between Boyne City and Charlevoix. There was a general store and post office with a high false front and maybe a wagon hitched out in front. Smith's house, Stroud's house, Dillworth's house, Horton's house and Van Hoosen's house. The houses were in a big grove of elm trees and the road was very sandy. There was farming country and timber each way up the road. Up the road a ways was the Methodist church and down the road the other direction was the township school. The blacksmith's shop was painted red and faced the school.

A steep sandy road ran down the hill to the bay through the timber. From Smith's back door you could look out across the woods that ran down to the lake and across the bay. It was very beautiful in the spring and summer, the bay blue and bright and usually whitecaps on the lake out beyond the point from the breeze blowing from Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. From Smith's back door Liz could see ore barges way out in the lake going toward Boyne City. When she looked at them they didn't seem to be moving at all but if she went in and dried more dishes and then came out again they would be out of sight beyond the point.


From "Up in Michigan," reprinted in The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987), p. 59.


Blogger Talia said...

I haven't read all of Hemingway's stuff, but I do love him. I love him because of my first love--Fitzgerald. I can FSF's novels (and watch the movies) over and over and fall in love with the whole lost generation. When I was about 16 I was really into the whole flapper and jazz scene. I even had some paperdolls of the fashion designer Erte.

11:02 PM  

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