Thursday, January 3, 2013

That Hemingway Fascination

I am forced to wonder at myself from time to time. Walking Cheyenne up Olivia Street I was quite surprised to see a crowd of people on the corner of Whitehead Street. Silly me, it's one of the biggest attractions in Key West.

Of corse I have visited from time to time because I do want to see what people come to see, even though I am not a huge fan of Hemingway's writing style, as spare as it is.

His home is also a slice of Key West history, this is how the wealthy lived in the twenties and his life is preserved. That his favorite home is in Cuba, also recorded on this web page if you search Finca Vigia doesn't detract from the historical value of this home.
It's a popular place and it never ceases to amaze me that this historic home is privately owned. In Europe where I grew up public places lie this with national significance would be owned by the state and held in trust for the people. That this is now a money making operation strikes me as a little weird.

The cats are always an issue in a town where neighbors have a hard time getting along. Supposedly the cats are descendants of Hemingway's felines and by means of the all-American lawsuit neighbors who hate the cats have managed to get the might of the Federal government involved in overseeing the animals. A federal judge ruled they are the equivalent of commercial bovines and need to be overseen as farm animals by the US Department of Agriculture! Strange neighbors indeed.

There's lots to see inside the gardens which cost a few dollars to enter but is not apparently entirely worth it for everyone. A quick peek is enough, whichnis how some people view Key West in its entirety, a small town, worth a quick view, no more.

Cheyenne likes the deeper longer inspection of her surroundings and she never seems to tire of walking city streets. It's not every dog that gets to sniff the famous Hemingway brick wall (which wasn't here when he was) and I doubt most dogs care.

I try not to get supercilious about the attractions that draw others to town. It is after all home to a writer who won the Nobel Prize. No small thing that, and there are tons of visitors to show it is an interesting thing, even if it isn't a properly registered National Monument.

12 comments:

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Anonymous said...

The wall was built in 1935 when Papa still lived there. He didn't like tourists peering in.

Conchscooter said...

Right enough. And they say he had no cats there at all. I really amm not that well informed about the man. I tried to read his stuff but his short repeptivie sentences left me breathless. I am therefore at odds with the Nobel committee as well. Bugger.

Shonassie said...

Don't feel bad! I tried to read him as well. He is just not my cup of tea. The way he led his life (although depressing in it's own way) was much more interesting than anything he ever wrote. Give me a good Steinbeck novel anyday. Walked and drove by his house several times in my travels there, but never interested in going in. Much more interested in the house in Cuba, just because of where it is! LOL!! Loved the photos you posted via your friend a while back, wish I cold go there some day. Maybe if I expatriate to Canada, I could go no problem! LOL!! Might even be worth considering since I live further North than some of the Canadians, (LOL good ole Michigan, feels like Alaska right now) Love your blog just the way it is, glad you have no plans for change this year!

RichardM said...

I'm not a book critic and have enjoyed his writings over the years even back when I had required reading lists. I think that I would be one of those tourists signing up for admission. I didn't even know there was a Hemingway home in KW. I had only heard about the one in Cuba.

Shonassie:
Alaska is nice and warm right now. Almost up to 29°F this morning...

Conchscooter said...

I like Steinbeck, but I know Hemingway is a great writer. A great hunter and killer of all things that crossed his path. His home is decidedly worth a visit it is history in front of you and the guides have personality and are worth hearing. I just am not a fan. All I can say is I have given his books a fair shot. His descriptions of key west hit home but the other stuff doesn't move me. It's embarrassing but true.

Anonymous said...

Have you really looked at the wall? You can tell that guy who built it wasn't a union brick layer. It was his good friend with the last name of Bruce who did. His son Dink is a Key West and Livingston Montana regular although I've never met him, but we have lots of mutual friends.

I did meet Patrick Hemingway once in Bozeman and he told me how he hates Key West and can smell it a mile away and that everything the tour guides tell you is false. When I mentioned Key West to him, the old man got really angry and red in the face, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. Of course he didn't like KW and the house as his parents left him and his brother Gregory there all alone a lot of the time and the nanny told them their parents were never coming back. I can understand why he doesn't have fond memories of KW and growing up in the house.

It was 9 degrees here last night, I really need to move to the Keys.

Bob from Livingston Montana

Conchscooter said...

Sounds right. Hemingway is a marketing tool. Everyone makes a buck.

Anonymous said...

You should read Hemingway's Boat which is a well written biography of exactly that. Hemingway lived a somewhat epic and almost entirely public life. His love of travel and the sea should be enough to get you through the book.

Perry said...

Read Hemingway's short story "A Clean Well-Lighted Place." You will love it, CS. It's about what is necessary to live if you are old, alone, and without a belief in God. Hemingway was very proud of this story, saying it represented his "iceberg" theory of writing better than anything else he had written. The theory was that the words on the page were like the visible part of the iceberg; the deeper meaning lay beneath the surface. The older waiter shows compassion and understanding. The young waiter represents everyone else in the world who is shallow and selfish. Everything else H removed without it collapsing.

Conchscooter said...

Crap. I will.
The thing is I am very literal and Hemingway's circumlocution confuses my Asperger's.
I will give all recommendations a shot. Part of this process is mind expansion.

Danette said...

Hemingway loved his cats and had them at many of the places he lived. I don't like his writing style either and find him to be much overrated. I remember reading 'For whom the Bell Tolls' in college and thinking "so what's all the fuss about?" it was trite and downright silly in places. My favorite piece of his is 'a Moveable Feast' which was heavily edited apparently by his last wife. I read 'Hemingway's Boats' and I think you'd enjoy it too although there is not as much Hemingway history in it as it would seem to indicate. I've read a bio on his Paris life, the book on his life in Key West, another on his pre-Paris life and one over-arching bio. He had an interesting life if he wasn't an interesting writer. Cheers!