ERNIE by Madeline Hemingway Miller


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A simple little nothing of a personal memoir by Ernie's favorite little sister. She's ""Nunbones""; he's ""Oinbones."" They're a couple of average American kids, fishing, shooting, boating and getting themselves into all kinds of jams with the big folks up on Walloon Lake, the setting for the Nick Adams stories. Mother Hemingway liked to recall the toddler who, before Madeline was born, used to insist ""'fraid of nothin'."" But once Ernie leaves home for Kansas City, Italy, Montreal. . . , clearly the estrangement is more than physical. After the shocking divorce from Hadley -- whom she clearly adores -- Madeline is invited to Paris and Pamplona. She disappoints him -- it was supposed to be her ""big chance."" Eventually, she goes to Key West to type A Farewell to Arms where he tries to fix her up with Dos Passos; still later, Ernie and Pauline put her up at a Parisian pension. She hates Pauline for her ruthlessness and for treating her like a servant/ babysitter. No scuttlebutt about Martha Gellhorn since by that time sister and brother might be strangers. A brief excursion to Cuba sounds awkward and strained. And that's the last time she'll ever see Ernie. Because he blew off so much of his head with that favorite shotgun, he'll be buried in a dosed coffin. Mary receives her coldly at Ketchum; and the funeral is a nightmare for the insignificant little sister of the world-renowned writer-suicide, son of a suicide. She's still beleaguered by the souvenir vultures. Her story is sweet, naive, laced with nostalgia and a very deep, proud love for her Oinbones who was so famous. . . but ""was he happy?"" (There will be photos culled from the family album.)

Pub Date: April 21st, 1975
Publisher: Crown