Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Celebrity Sips
Hard-Living Hemingway

In honor of Hemmingway Week, I am re-running a TLM post from last year, and will be including more Hemmingway fun, in the days to come. Happy Birthday Hemmingway (July 21)!

As a huge fan of the Bohemian writers of the 1920’s - 30’s. I inhale biographies from that era (particularly of the female writers - sometimes Hemingway's lovers). Their rebellion, curiosity, restlessness, hunger for life, to-hell-with-it attitude and far-less-than-perfect humanity are qualities to which I can relate, as any boozy broad should!

The life and writings of Ernest Hemingway reflect social transitions of that era and are revered for their insight, adventure and candor.

Sipster, Noah Raizman, of New York, an aficionado of “Classic Cocktails,” sent in a wonderful recipe, apparently enjoyed by Ernest Hemingway, during his time in Cuba. I am putting Noah’s drink write up, first. For those interested, my very general coverage of Ernest Hemingway’s career follows…

As per Noah’s letter to The Liquid Muse, “I just made a pitcher of Hemingway Daiquiri's for a few friends, roommates and squatters. A daiquiri is just white rum, simple syrup and lime. At La Florida, a legendary bar in Havana, they added grapefruit to their version of a daiquiri, which they blended and called a La Florida Cocktail.

Locals called the place by its diminutive, La Floridita, so the cocktail eventually became known as a La Floridita. When Hemingway was in Cuba, La Floridita was his local haunt. Hemingway, being Hemingway, didn't like sweet drinks, so he convinced the bartender (he would only allow his drinks to be made by the head bartender, Constante Ribalaigua) to make the cocktail with maraschino liqueur instead of simple syrup. This drink became known as The Hemingway Daiquiri."

The Hemmingway Daquiri
(as per Sipster, Noah Raizman)

3 oz white rum
1.5oz lime
3/4 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz maraschino liqueur
(and I will add a tsp of simple syrup, depending on how sweet the limes are, and always if I blend it)

Pour rum, lime and grapefruit juices, and simple syrup into a shaker with ice. Serve in a preferably chilled glass. Top with maraschino liqueur and garnish with a cherry.

Celebrity Profile:
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. By the time he graduated from High School, World War I raged in Europe. His desire to enlist was deferred, due to poor vision. When he heard the Red Cross was taking volunteers as ambulance drivers, however, he quickly signed up. He left his job at the local paper and sailed for Europe in May 1918.

In the short time that Hemingway worked for the Kansas City Star he learned some stylistic lessons that would later influence his fiction. The newspaper advocated short sentences, short paragraphs, active verbs, authenticity, compression, clarity and immediacy. Hemingway later said: "Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I've never forgotten them."

In 1919, at age 19, Hemingway returned home from Italy, and found Oak Park dull compared to the adventures of war. In 1920, he moved to Chicago and wrote for the Star Weekly. In 1921,he met and married his first wife, Hadley Richardson. By November of the same year Hemingway accepted an offer to work with the Toronto Daily Star, as its European corespondent.

The Hemingways arrived in Paris on December 22, 1921 where the whole of literature was being changed by the likes of Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and Ford Maddox Ford. He would not miss his chance to leave his mark, as well.

Their apartment at 74 rue Cardinal Lemoine had no running water. The bathroom was basically a closet with a slop bucket inside. Ironically, they could have afforded much better; with Hemingway's job and Hadley's trust fund their annual income was $3,000, a decent sum in the inflated economies of Europe at the time.

Hemingway rented a room at 39 Rue Descartes where he could do his writing, in peace. While in Paris, he reported extensively on Geneva Conference in April of 1922, The Greco-Turkish War in October, the Luasanne Conference and the post war convention in the Ruhr Valley in early 1923. Along with the political articles, he wrote lifestyle pieces as well, covering fishing, bullfighting, social life in Europe, skiing, bobsledding and more.

Just as Hemingway was beginning to make a name for himself as a reporter and a fledgling fiction writer, and enjoying his place in the literary social circles in Europe, the couple found out that Hadley was pregnant. The Hemingways left Paris in 1923 and moved to Toronto, where he wrote for the Toronto Daily Star. On October 10, 1923, John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway was born. By January of 1924 the young family boarded a ship, and sailed back to Paris.

From 1925 to 1929, Hemingway produced some of the most important works of 20th century fiction, including the landmark short story collection In Our Time (1925) which contained "The Big Two-Hearted River." In 1926 he came out with his first true novel, The Sun Also Rises. Following that, came Men Without Women in 1927, another book of stories including "The Killers," and "In Another Country." In 1929 he published A Farewell to Arms, arguably the finest novel to emerge from World War I. In four short years he went from being an unknown writer to being the most important writer of his generation, and perhaps the 20th century.

He divorced Hadley in 1927 and married Pauline Pfeiffer, an occasional fashion reporter for the likes of Vanity Fair and Vogue, later that year. In 1928, they left Paris for Key West, Florida where they lived for nearly twelve years.

Finding it a wonderful place to work and to play, in Florida he discovered the sport of big game fishing which would become a life-long passion and a source for much of his later writing. Hemingway loved it. "It’s the best place I’ve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms...Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks."

On June 28, 1928, Pauline gave birth to Hemingway’s second child, Patrick. And, in December of that year, Hemingway received a cable reporting his father’s suicide.

Despite the personal turmoil, Hemingway continued to work on A Farewell to Arms, published in 1929. He wouldn’t enjoy that level of critical acclaim again, for nearly a decade.

In 1931 Pauline gave birth to Gregory, the last of Hemingway’s children.

In 1932, his Spanish bullfighting dissertation, Death in the Afternoon, was published. He managed to make an encyclopedic book readable, even by those who had no real interest in the corrida. He inserts observations on Spanish culture, writers, food, people, politics, history, etc. Hemingway wrote, "It is intended as an introduction to the modern Spanish bullfight and attempts to explain that spectacle both emotionally and practically. It was written because there was no book which did this in Spanish or in English."

Before leaving to Spain, to to cover the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance, in 1937, he met a young writer named Martha Gellhorn in Key West at Sloppy Joe’s bar in Key West. The two conducted a secret affair for almost four years.

Upon returning from Spain, divorcing Pauline and marrying Martha, Hemingway moved to a large house outside Havana, Cuba, which the newly wed couple named Finca Vigia ("Lookout Farm"). Hemingway decorated it with hunting trophies from his African safari. Here, he began work on his Spanish War novel, For Whom The Bell Tolls, in 1939.

In the spring of 1944 Hemingway went to Europe to report on WW2. He headed first to London where he wrote articles about the RAF and about the war’s effects on England. While there, he was injured in a car crash, suffering a serious concussion and a gash to his head which required over 50 stitches. Martha visited him in the hospital, castigating him for being involved in a drunken auto wreck. Her cavalier reaction triggered the beginning of the end of their marriage.

While recovering, Hemingway met Mary Welsh, with whom he openly conducted a courtship in London and then in France, after the allied invasion at Normandy and the subsequent liberation of Paris. For all intents and purposes Hemingway’s third marriage was over and his fourth and final marriage to Mary had begun. Hemingway wrote, "Funny how it should take one war to start a woman in your damn heart and another to finish her. Bad luck."

In 1944, he set up camp in The Ritz Hotel and spent the next week or so drinking, carousing and celebrating his return to the city that meant so much to him as a young man.

Hemingway returned to America in March of 1946 with plans to write a great novel of the war, which never materialized.

In September of 1952 The Old Man and the Sea appeared in Life magazine, selling over 5 million copies in a flash. For the first time since For Whom The Bell Tolls in 1940 Hemingway was atop the literary heap...and making a fortune. Though Hemingway had known great success before, he never had the privilege of receiving any major literary prizes. The Old Man and the Sea changed that, winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953.
Flush with money from the Old Man and the Sea, he decided to exercise his wanderlust, returning to Europe to catch some bullfights in Spain and then to Africa later in the summer for another safari, with Mary.

In January of 1954, Hemingway and Mary boarded a small Cessna airplane to take a tour of some of east Africa’s beautiful lakes and waterfalls. The pilot hit a telegraph wire and they made a crash landing. Luckily, the group’s injuries were minor.

After a boat ride across Lake Victoria they took another flight in a de Haviland Rapide. Heading toward Uganda, the plane barely got off the ground before crashing and catching fire. Hemingway, using his head as a battering ram, broke through the main door. This accident was not as lucky.

In his biography of Hemingway, Jeffrey Meyer lists the various injuries to the writer. "His skull was fractured, two discs of his spine were cracked, his right arm and shoulder were dislocated, his liver, right kidney and spleen were ruptured, his sphincter muscle was paralyzed by compressed vertebrae on the iliac nerve, his arms, face and head were burned by the flames of the plane, his vision and hearing were impaired..." Though he survived the crashes and lived to read his own premature obituaries, his injuries cut short his life in a slow and painful way.

Despite his ailments, Hemingway and Mary traveled on to Venice one last time and then headed back to Cuba. On October 28, 1954 Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but due to his injuries was unable to attend the ceremonies in Sweden.

In 1959, Life magazine contracted with Hemingway to write a short article about the series of mano y mano bullfights between Antonio Ordonez and Louis Miguel Dominguin, two of Spain’s finest matadors. Hemingway spent the summer of 1959 traveling with the bullfighters to gather material for the article.

When he began writing the story however, it quickly grew to some 120,000 words. The magazine published the article as "The Dangerous Summer" in three installments in 1960. This was the last work that Hemingway would see published in his lifetime.

His physical deterioration soon became obvious. Photos show Hemingway looking like a man closer to eighty than one of sixty. His mood swings, exacerbated by his heavy drinking of up to a quart of liquor a day, were also taking a toll on those close to him.

During this time Hemingway worked on his memoirs, which would be published posthumously, in 1964, as A Moveable Feast, which critics praised for its tenderness, beauty and for its rare look at the expatriate lifestyle of Paris in the 1920’s.

In his last year of life, Hemingway registered at the Mayo Clinic where he underwent between 11 to 15 shock treatments. One of the sad side effects of shock therapy is the loss of memory, and for Hemingway it was a catastrophic loss. Without his memory he could no longer write, could no longer recall the facts and images he required to create his art.

Hemingway spent the first half of 1961 fighting his depression and paranoia, seeing enemies at every turn and threatening suicide on several more occasions. On the morning of July 2, 1961 Hemingway rose early, selected a shotgun from a closet in the basement, went upstairs to a spot near the entrance-way of the house and shot himself in the head. It was little more than two weeks until his 62nd birthday.

(much of this biographical information is taken from


Deb said...

Great post Natalie...I LOVE Hemingway! I like the idea of grapefruit in the drink since I'm not a fan of anything sweet. How did your event go? Damn.... I wanted to be there!

Shawn said...

I have adored every Hemingway book I read, which is pretty much all of them. My favorite has to be For Whom the Bell Tolls.

I even have a shout out to Hemingway in one of my blog photos!

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