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Hemingway: The Final Years
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393320472, Paperback)If one had to choose just one of Michael Reynolds's five volumes on Hemingway, The Final Years would probably be the best choice. Beginning with the fanfare surrounding the publication of For Whom the Bell Tolls on the eve of the Second World War and ending with Hemingway's suicide in 1961, the book puts all that had come before into perspective even as it probes these last two decades of its subject's life. The amount of detail is staggering--and sometimes, particularly in the case of his troubled fourth marriage to Mary Welsh, painfully discomfiting. (Long before Mary interrupts a conversation between Hem and Lauren Bacall to show Bacall a bullet she keeps for anybody who makes a move on her husband, the reader has figured out that the marriage was not exactly happy.)
The sections on Hemingway's wartime exploits, both in Cuba as a volunteer U-boat hunter and in Europe as a correspondent, are fascinating. But even in these moments--hell, even when he won the Pulitzer and the Nobel--Hemingway was subject to what he called "black ass" bouts of depression, an inherited condition that (as Reynolds notes) wasn't helped by his drinking or his tendency to put himself into dangerous situations in which he could suffer yet another severe concussion. Reynolds has traced the great writer's psychological decline so thoroughly that, when Hemingway puts the shotgun in his mouth in the final chapter, it is not as if the expected conclusion has finally arrived; rather, the reader has been made to feel an even deeper sense of the inevitability of the act. --Ron Hogan
(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 19 Apr 2011 07:17:43 -0400)
"This rich and sympathetic portrayal of Hemingway's final years brings to life the man and the writer, courageous and foolish, an ardent lover and a sometimes infuriating husband, a representative man in the American grain. Book jacket."--BOOK JACKET.
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