Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, And Lost, 1934-1961

Paul Hendrickson

Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, And Lost, 1934-1961

Paul Hendrickson claims to have done the seemingly impossible: to present Ernest Hemingway in a whole new light. Hendrickson focuses on the period from 1934 to 1961, from the pinnacle of Hemingway's fame to his suicide. We see how, even in his most accomplished period, he carried within him the seeds of his tragic decline. And throughout this period, he had one constant (along with the devils that haunted him his whole life) - his beloved boat, Pilar. We see Hemingway in Paris, in Key West, in Cuba, in New York - and so often on Pilar, or wanting to be. Hendrickson shows the close connection between Hemingway's life and the words that would wind up on the pages of his books; the fictions he invented about his life; how the darkness was always there, and the joie de vivre. We see him with Maxwell Perkins; his friend and rival, F. Scott Fitzgerald; Marlene Dietrich; his four wives and three children. And we get insight into his troubled son Gigi, a transgender alcoholic who died in a Florida jail. 4.0 out of 5 based on 10 reviews
Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, And Lost, 1934-1961

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, Literary Studies & Criticism
Format Hardback
Pages 544
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication January 2012
ISBN 978-1847921932
Publisher Bodley Head
 

Paul Hendrickson claims to have done the seemingly impossible: to present Ernest Hemingway in a whole new light. Hendrickson focuses on the period from 1934 to 1961, from the pinnacle of Hemingway's fame to his suicide. We see how, even in his most accomplished period, he carried within him the seeds of his tragic decline. And throughout this period, he had one constant (along with the devils that haunted him his whole life) - his beloved boat, Pilar. We see Hemingway in Paris, in Key West, in Cuba, in New York - and so often on Pilar, or wanting to be. Hendrickson shows the close connection between Hemingway's life and the words that would wind up on the pages of his books; the fictions he invented about his life; how the darkness was always there, and the joie de vivre. We see him with Maxwell Perkins; his friend and rival, F. Scott Fitzgerald; Marlene Dietrich; his four wives and three children. And we get insight into his troubled son Gigi, a transgender alcoholic who died in a Florida jail.

If you're interested in Ernest Hemingway, you might also enjoy The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Reviews

The New York Review of Books

James Salter

Paul Hendrickson is a deeply informed and inspired guide … Hemingway’s Boat is a book written with the virtuosity of a novelist, hagiographic in the right way, sympathetic, assiduous, and imaginative. It does not rival the biographies but rather stands brilliantly beside them—the sea, Key West, Cuba, all the places, the life he had and gloried in. His commanding personality comes to life again in these pages, his great charm and warmth as well as his egotism and aggression.

13/10/2011

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The Sunday Times

Ed Caesar

Other books on Hemingway have tended to focus on two principal areas: his post-1930s literary decline, and his machismo. The portrait that emerges from the pages of Hemingway’s Boat is altogether more human. For one, Hendrickson argues that Hemingway’s career was not quite the tale of pitiful deterioration told by other biographers ... Hendrickson is at his best, however, when considering Hemingway’s connection to his family ... [An] unforgettable book

08/01/2012

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The Washington Post

Howell Raines

Like earlier books by this deft storyteller, this parallel biography of Pilar and her captain is extremely well written. Moreover, in the academic field of Hemingway studies, the book will stand as an indispensable document. It recognizes Hemingway’s deservedly high place in the modernist literary pantheon and broadens our understanding of the half-century fad among scholars and critics to denigrate his magnificent early work, notably “The Sun Also Rises”, “A Farewell to Arms,” and “The First Forty Nine Stories,” by documenting the declining editorial judgment, manners and common sense that marked his later years.

22/09/2011

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The Sunday Telegraph

Ian Thomson

Hemingway’s Boat had me hooked from beginning to end. Every friend and acquaintance of Hemingway has been interviewed here. The result is an exceptionally lively biography, that offers a vivid new picture of Hemingway — his pleasures, foibles and occasional generosities. Now, perhaps for the first time, the “great man with great faults” emerges as distinctive and memorable as any of his fictional creations.

09/01/2012

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The Daily Express

Jeffery Taylor

The author speaks of Hemingway’s “free flowing syntax and conversational delivery” and uses it himself. This could be dismissed as a ploy to create spurious familiarity with his idol but it feels honest and, on the whole, works ... What a refreshing read this book is: a no-holds-barred post-mortem examination of an exceptional human being.

08/01/2012

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The Financial Times

Michael Prodger

This book is unusual not just in seeing Hemingway through the presence of his boat but in the way he writes. Hendrickson inserts himself into the story, he flits from lit-crit to reportage to biography and, just as owners are said to resemble their dogs, he uses a highly wrought Hemingway-inflected prose in which riverbeds are “pebble clean”, towns sit at “jackrabbit crossroads” and friendships “flint-spark into being”. The style is more extended New Yorker essay than book but it works and the result, to use Hemingway’s favourite term of praise, is not just enthralling, it is “fine”.

22/01/2011

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The New York Times

Arthur Phillips

Hemingway’s Boat includes some of the most moving, beautiful pieces of biography I have ever read, except — and, tempting though it may be, please don’t omit this exception for publicity purposes — except when the book is discussing Ernest Hemingway and his boat.

10/11/2011

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The Observer

Olivia Laing

Bewitchingly beautiful … It helps that Hendrickson is a miraculously lovely writer. He twists and turns through time, moving sensitively between the books and life. He understands too the deep allure the ocean held for Hemingway: "The yearning for the short-water route to freedom, wide-open freedom. Call it Huck's yearning. To go riding in the spine of time, towards salt waters." There's something redemptive about such language; it restores what's best about the man without resorting to whitewash or soft soap.

08/01/2012

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The Spectator

Sam Leith

There is so much in this long book that is new and interesting and enlightening; it seems to defy précis. So I regret that, though awed by its range and depth and perceptiveness, I do have some reservations. Hemingway’s Boat chugs into harbour in the UK on a breaking wave of critical admiration not only for its research, but for its prose; it’s in a style that strikes some people, especially the author, as literary. To my mind it’s showily and irritatingly overwritten...

07/01/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Nicholas Blincoe

His aim is to create a link between Hemingway and his fishing boat that is as solid as the link between Louis Armstrong and his horn — which is nuts, but evidence of the importance sports assumes in American literary life.

17/01/2011

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