I KILLED HEMINGWAY by William McCranor Henderson


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 Rolling-stone ghostwriter Elliot McGuire gets shanghaied into the ultimate revisionist Hemingway bio--a tell-all confession by the man who insists he pulled the trigger on Papa in revenge for a lifetime of theft and betrayal: more celebrity-ridden shenanigans from the author of Stark Raving Elvis (1984). Hot to build up the cash and contacts he'll need to publish his pioneering astral self-help book, LifeForms, Elliot lets himself get talked into acting as contact for publisher Warren & Dudge in their book project about piss-and-vinegar Eric ``Pappy'' Markham--then finds, on his first trip to Pappy's lair on Key West, that he'll in fact have to write the whole manuscript himself in an under-the-table deal. At first Pappy's manic enthusiasm is contagious, and Elliot, a self-destructive refugee from a successful Oedipal consummation and the academic Hemingway industry, takes a spitefully awed pleasure in Pappy's tales of the boxing match the day he met Hemingway, the deflowering of Ezra Pound, and the real fate of Hadley's lost valise. But as the revelations get wilder and wilder--Hemingway was a plagiarist and poseur who stole Pappy's formative early work and his literary persona; Hemingway was a vampire, a mass murderer, a cannibal--Elliot finds himself running away from his own project. Meanwhile, the project is running away from him in a cloud of Tom Wolfe knaves and zanies (backstabbing editor Craig Vandermeer, sycophantic scholar Howie Ritz, et al.). Pappy's memoir I Killed Hemingway scores big on the bestseller lists (``A literary bombshell!'' raves Kirkus); Pappy welshes on his $75,000 deal with Elliot; and Elliot, furiously determined to get revenge and repair the damage he's inflicted on Hemingway's reputation, goes head to head together with DeForrest against Pappy on Yugo McDonough's racy daytime talk-show, with predictably rueful results. A bouncy farce whose momentum overcomes its mordant overtones.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-08816-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993