Mar. 30th, 2014

Books!! While in Key West we stopped to see Hemingway's house--the line to get tickets was long and moving slowly, but this superskinny gal with black-dyed-blue hair and amazing sunglasses and lipstick talked to us a bit in line, about how she didn't care about Hemingway per se but wanted to see the six-toed cats. ;) Me, I kind of like Hemingway--I didn't much get "The Sun also Rises" when we read it in high school, but I read "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and a bunch of his other short stories since then and my memory is I was pretty impressed by his ability to communicate. For all that my two-thumbs-up counts...

I hadn't realized how many of his movies had been turned into massive Hollywood films of the time, to be honest, of which I have seen zero. I suppose I should see some of them. There were not as many six-toed cats as there had been when the hubby was there 20+ years ago--there were still lots of cats, of course, but the six-toed ones were dropping in proportion, as would be expected given the porousness of the genetic pool. ;)

But in the bookstore (highlight of the trip! No not really--but I did find some stuff there) I picked up a book of Hemingway on writing, where there were clips of his letters and comments to people about writing. It was actually pretty funny, I thought; most of it was sardonically humorous or self-denigrating, and the rest was just true re: the writing process. I did not, however, actually buy it, thinking I could get it on Amazon.

What I did take home was a book by Martha Gellhorn, called "Travels with Myself and Another", sporting a picture of her with a shotgun in some savannah on the cover. Turns out she was a well-known reporter/war correspondent during WWII and kept writing through much of the 20th century; and was Hemingway's third wife, hence her book in his bookstore. The book is a collection of her horror stories about interenational travel, with a trip to China in 1940 followed by a trip through the Carribean the next year looking for submarine hunters, then a trip through Africa in the 50s? I think, Moscow in the 70s and a short coda about some time in Israel also in the 70s. Everyone says the "another" in the title is Hemingway, but that's only partially true. He's only in the first one, the WWII trip to China, and the "anothers" of the other travels are all other people.

I read the whole thing in a few days because I just couldn't put it down. She is sarcastic, biting, angry at herself and others, upset over injustice and equally upset over the changes that the encroaching white man's civilization brings. She was pissed at the natural assumption of white privilege she saw in east Africa and equally pissed at the way whites had to kiss butt in the recently freed countries of west Africa. She's stubborn and impulsive but somehow manages to survive dysentery, dengue fever and days of peeling sunblisters (if she didn't have sun poisoning I'd be very surprised), sailing in an itty-bitty whatsit from island to island in the Caribbean. And then she sees the sunset over an unspoiled beach or the animals gathering at the morning watering hole in a park in Kenya, and she's ecstatic, trying to describe the beauty of it all.

Her writing doesn't have the punch that Hemingway's did--some of her sentences needed work :) --but as a travelogue, it was hysterical. Two thumbs up from me!



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