In the last few years I’ve read Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls, my favorite. I tried to read Islands in the Stream, but I bogged down.
Islands was released posthumously, nailed together from notes by Ernie’s widow and publisher.
I also read Death in the Afternoon, which is sloppily written and seems to have skipped the editing process. It’s fantastic, however, for its detailed information on bullfighting if you like that sort of thing. I surely do.
At the moment I’m reading a book by one of Ernie’s daughters-in-law, an Irish woman named Valerie who, in 2005, published Running with the Bulls: My Years with the Hemingways.
Ernie had the hots for Valerie in the late 1950s when she worked for him as a secretary, but he never got lucky. She was 19.
Valerie later married Ernie’s youngest son, Gregory/Gloria, a cross-dresser and then transsexual who died of a heart attack in a Miami jail at age 69.
He was nutty as a fruitcake, a sad sack.
The only Hemingway books I had read before I turned 60 were The Old Man and the Sea and A Moveable Feast, both relatively short, which is why I read them.
I’m going to read them again.
Now let’s get to the subject at hand, the purpose of this post. First off, Ernie was boorish, jealous, selfish and vain. Not romantically jealous, mind you, but of other successful writers.
He was a first-class jerk.
There is no worse manifestation of vanity on a man than the comb-over, the silly and painfully obvious attempt to cover a balding skull.
Ernie’s comb-over was more of a comb-forward. Click the photo.
The hair lack became moot when Ernie removed the top of his head with a Boss 12-gauge shotgun in the entrance foyer of his home in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1961, leaving an ungodly mess for his fourth wife, Mary.
But it was one less comb-over in the world and, by God, that’s a good thing.