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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Papa Returns

It was announced that there is going to be another movie next year starring ole Papa--Ernest Hemingway. Not another magical bout into the past a la Midnight in Paris or an adaptation of one of his books, which has always been very close to memoir rather than outright fiction, Papa is a tale of a time in Hemingway's life when he had befriended a young journalist in Cuba. The entire movie is being shot in Cuba, which is a fact that seems to have eclipsed the very basics of the movie itself.

I remain ambivalent about movies about writers. Capote was an excellent look at the man during some of the most interesting years of his career as a novelist and reporter.  On the other hand, The Rum Diary was a messy (at times indulgent) farce, hiding Hunter S. Thompson and his beliefs behind a supposed work of "fiction" and said little or nothing by the time the credits rolled.

My problem is that sometimes the writers tend to not be nearly as interesting as their personas lead us to believe. In the case of Truman Capote, he was an icon, whose social candor was second to none, and whose life was as interesting as he wrote it to be. In Thompson's case--and I am a big fan of his work--he was by-in-large an overly exposed drug addict, and his work suffered for it. His landmark book, Fear and Loathing: on the Campaign Trail '72, chronicled his drug addiction as much as it followed Nixon and Humphrey. And as great as it was to read the insights he had on the candidates of '72, it was equally sad to see his work fall apart because of his numerous addictions. His life, unlike Capote's, can be largely summed up as a man who wrote well for a while but was very inconsistent.

Whether Papa Hemingway is interesting enough to warrant a movie dedicated, not to his life, but to a specific moment closer to the end than the beginning remains to be seen. I suppose that 2015 is just around the corner now anyway.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, getting ready to "pen" the next great American novel--then maybe a bar fight.