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Hemingway's boat : everything he loved in life, and lost, 1934-1961
Paul Hendrickson
Adult Nonfiction PS3515.E37 Z628 2011

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From Publishers' Weekly:

NBCC-award winner Hendrickson (Sons of Mississippi) offers an admirably absorbing, important, and moving interpretation of Hemingway's ambitions, passions, and tragedies during the last 27 years of his life. When Hemingway purchased the sleek fishing boat Pilar in 1934, he was on the cusp of literary celebrity, flush with good health, and ebullient about pursuing deep sea adventures. The release from his desk was a reward for productive writing and the change replenished his creative energy. But eventually Hemingway's health and work declined. When he committed suicide in 1961, he hadn't been aboard the Pilar in many months. Acutely sensitive to his subject's volatile, "gratuitously mean" personality, Hendrickson offers fascinating details and sheds new light on Hemingway's kinder, more generous side from interviews with people befriended by Hemingway in his prime. Most importantly, Hendrickson interviewed each of Hemingway's sons. He suggests, not for the first time but with poignant detail, the probability that Papa's youngest son, Gregory (Gigi), a compulsive cross-dresser who eventually had gender-altering surgery, was acting out impulses that his father yearned for yet denied. Hendrickson makes new connections between ex-wife Pauline's sudden death after Hemingway's cruel accusations against Gigi, and Gigi's lifelong guilt over her death. In the end, Hendrickson writes of the tormented Gigi and his conflicted father, "I consider them far braver than we ever knew." 23 illus. (Sept. 23) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

From the trout streams of his youth to the Gulf Stream of his adult years, boats and water were a constant presence in Ernest Hemingway's journey. Hendrickson (Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Its Legacy) takes a unique tack by framing the last 27 years of Hemingway's over-dissected life with his yacht, Pilar. Outlasting marriages and relationships with friends and family, the 38' Brooklyn-built fishing machine was the lasting love of his life. Hendrickson has come neither to praise nor to bury his subject, but to give him a fair shot. Hemingway is filtered through the eyes of friends and family; with full chapters focusing on Pilar's strange mate Arnold Samuelson and several chapters following Walter Houk, a still-living acquaintance from the Cuba days. Hemingway's youngest and most troubled son, Gregory, is also featured prominently. Hemingway had such a dominating personality that he unknowingly damaged those around him, with siblings and offspring suffering the worst. VERDICT Featuring spry writing and clever insight but thankfully little critical analysis of EH's work (that's been done to death), Hendrickson brings fresh meat to the table, delivering one of the most satisfying Hemingway assessments in many years. A delight for Ernesto's numerous fans.-Mike Rogers, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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