Hemingway’s Boat, by Paul Hendrickson
This book concentrates on Ernest Hemingway’s life from 1934 to 1961. It has a unique angle in that instead of focusing on the famous author, it involves his fishing boat, the “Pilar”. The book initially talks about where the boat was built, who built it, what materials were involved, how much Hemingway paid for it, etc. But it is about so much more than that. It talks about Hemingway’s love of deep sea fishing and the huge blue marlins he catches from the Gulf Stream. He entertains many famous guests aboard “Pilar” and was clearly happiest when he was at sea. Hemingway’s Boat also talks about the people in Hemingway’s life, such as a drifter who became his apprentice for a summer, and his youngest son, who was most like him but also the most troubled. You see Hemingway’s physical and mental decline after he could no longer fish aboard his beloved boat. A great book for Hemingway buffs; extraordinarily well written.
One thought on “Hemingway’s Boat”
Joel is right – this is the best and most readable book on Hemingway in a long time. Each chapter, you might say goes off on a tangent but then it burrows down into the subject and surfaces in the present. For example, the author visits the site of the now defunct Brooklyn shipyard where the boat was built, checks its tax returns, and interviews the owner’s surviving son.
I kept expecting the story to level off and take a broad academic view but it never did. The crack-up and suicide was a bummer though but I doubt it will come as a surprise to most readers.