With nothing near the sympathetic engagement he finds with Joyce, Burgess comes rather diffidently to this once-over-lightly biography of Hemingway--short text, page-sized pictures, the barest critical attention to the work. But saying that (which might be said of many in this series), it's also true that Burgess' not over-fond tone works nicely: "Superstitious, morbidly touchy, he growled about wringing various bastards' necks, and then he went moodily off to kill elk and moose, black bears and little birds." There's probably nothing here that can't be found in Carlos Baker or A. E. Hotchner or Scott Donaldson, but it's the picking-over that lends spice; Burgess has a taste for the curiously eclectic biographical detail, such as Hemingway's speech defect: "lambdacismus (an inability to pronounce the lateral consonant, so that lilies in his mouth were wiwwies)." On Hemingway's early, mean, and inept parody of Sherwood Anderson, The Torrents of Spring: "The only author Hemingway ever proved capable of parodying was himself." Burgess shows respect for Hemingway's innovative prose procedures and sadness about his increasingly pathological life--all in that graceful Burgess style, not too tricky for once--but finally it's like a little wave too late and from too far away: a gesture, and of no consequence whatsoever.