This madcap tribute to American novelist and short-story master Ernest Hemingway is a rambunctious mesh of reality and fantasy, a what-if romp both childish and charming.
New York firefighting-equipment salesman Randy Mowrer, a distant relative of Hemingway, has a vision in 1960 of the author's real-life suicide in Ketchum, Idaho, on July 2, 1961, and he sets out to cheat fate by kidnapping the legendary Papa. Mowrer and his accomplice, precocious journalist Leslie Stevens, abduct Hemingway, detox him, and then force him to write his â€œbig work.” â€œSo it takes immortal words to get a drink here?” Hemingway asks his captors. Apparently so, and that's about the extent of it. The plot is pure screwball and slapstick–right down to the inept FBI team commissioned to foil the abduction–and has more than its share of endearing moments, as well as plenty of sex, drinking, crime, and drama. In other words: perfect movie fodder. Debut novelist White brings Hemingway to life with intelligence and wit, mining the premise of a captive Papa for all its literary worth. (Warning to the casual reader: you may need the complete Hemingway oeuvre at your side to follow the plot references.) Also included are appearances by Papa's wife Mary, repeated references to the other three former wives, and even cameos from descendants Margot and Marielle as babies in 1960.
A wistful remembrance of what was and what might have been, though far more whimsical than the author himself might have demanded.