Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I hate Hemingway

I hate Hemingway.

There, I said it.

I know that's heresy for a writer, correction copywriter, but try as I might I have not acquired the taste for Papa. He falls into the same category as brisket, scotch and Mad Men. I want to like them, but I don't.

Two weeks ago, I went on a camping trip. I brought with me, The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (The Finca Vigia Edition.)

As I lay in the hammock, cooled by the babbling waters of the Onion Valley Creek, I dove head first into Ten Indians. 300 words in, zzzzzzzzz.

Same with The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

And The Big Two-Hearted River.

All impenetrable.
All boring.
All overrated, as far as I'm concerned.

Call me a lightweight. But if I want a healthy dose of obfuscation that requires tedious reading and re-reading, there are plenty of planning briefs I can get my hands on.

Fortunately, I didn't venture into the foothills of the Eastern Sierras unprepared. On the advice of my east coast doppleganger, George Tannenbaum, the most scholarly copywriter on the planet, I brought along Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel.

Mitchell is everything Hemingway is not.
Accessible, entertaining and not overtly impressed with his own style.

He was a reporter for the New Yorker magazine and covered the hundreds of drinking establishments in lower Manhattan. There, he met and chronicled the lives of New York's most colorful characters.

Including Jane Barnell, a bearded lady, Captain Charles Eugene Cassell, owner/operator of Captain Charley's Private Museum for Intelligent People, and of course, the Bowery's legendary Joe Gould, Keeper of the World's Oral History.

By the end of the camping trip I felt like I had reconnected with Mother Nature while simultaneously connecting with the kind of unforgettable people who made New York City, New York City.

I'll never understand why high school and college English teachers are so smitten with Ernest Hemingway. Nor will I ever understand my families love of brisket, come the High Holidays.

That's what's great about being an adult and living in a free country. I don't have to subject myself to either.


Unknown said...

maybe you haven't had the right briskett...

Anonymous said...

Papa was a liver of life. What do you do?

Rich Siegel said...

What do I do?

I'm a copywriter. Professionally employed in the art of advertising. I keep the engine of capitalism firing on all 8 cylinders. I'm a proud cog in the machine that creates inflated demand for worthless products none of us need and will eventually fill the landfills that will choke the earth and kill all life as we know it.

Oh wait, that didn't come out right.

How about this?

If Hemingway was a liver of life I then am the Gall Bladder of Life. Secreting bile on a semi-regular basis.

I'll tell you what I'm not. I'm not some keyboard warrior who lacks conviction and quivers behind the veil of anonymity. That would be embarrassing.

rodhirschwriter said...

Yeah, Papa was a liver of life – right up until the moment he stuck a shotgun in his mouth.

I enjoyed 'A moveable feast' at first reading, and still revisit occasionally, but the rest of his output seems pretty turgid these days.