Yes, there is more to learn about the man who remains one of America’s most iconic writers.
Paul, who for decades wrote for the Kansas City Star and, with several others, has co-edited a previous work on Papa (War + Ink: New Perspectives on Ernest Hemingway’s Early Life and Writings, 2014, etc.), shares some history with Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), who began his professional writing career at age 18 at the Star, where he worked for more than six months before enlisting in the ambulance service for World War I. Paul focuses on this single year, and we learn about how Hemingway acquired the Kansas City gig, where and how he lived in the city, the sorts of stories he covered, his reputation among his colleagues, his decision to apply for the ambulance service (he failed the military physical), his journey to Europe, and his severe wounding in Italy—an experience that would lead, as the author points out, to A Farewell to Arms. Paul notes that during Hemingway’s tenure at the paper, there were no bylines, but he occasionally sent home clippings, and Paul mined the young man’s letters as well to pin other pieces to the novice writer. He also points out the connections between the Kansas City stories he covered and his fiction (as Paul does as well with the ambulance service). The author, like previous biographers, whom he generously mentions, struggles to separate fact from fiction in the life of Hemingway, who could be a fabulist. Paul also traveled to key sites, including the spot where Hemingway was wounded, to enrich his account. He says several times that Hemingway learned to write in Kansas City—a genial exaggeration, of course. Near the end, he reveals a key discovery about Papa and a grand jury.
A clear, concise, sympathetic account of a gifted young man discovering who he is—and what he can do.