Book Review: “Hemingway in 90 Minutes” by Paul Strathern

Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899 and died of suicide in 1961 of age 61. Born to a reasonably well off family (father being a physician) and surrounded by sisters, he possessed an healthy amount of egotism. Determined to be a hero, he volunteered to participate in World War I by becoming an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Italy. He became an hero when he rescued a couple of Italian soldiers risking his own life, though the extent of his injury may had been exaggerated or fibbed as he had been prone to do.

Throughout his life, he seemed to be living from one marriage to the next (total of 4) and traveling in and out of country as he continued fine-tuning his writing. The author sited several of his writings as exemplary but wasn’t generous in the portrait of Hemingway’s personal life. Most of the characters he used in his writing are taken from the people he met as most authors do. He had a dark side that he seemed to be most critical of the people who treated him the best, like some of his early mentors and his mother. This might have been a early sign of his bipolar disorder.

Unfortunately, Hemingway’s drinking and his two plane-crash accidents contributed the his poor health and early demise when he took his own life. But he was able to do one of the best work like “Old Man and the Sea” at his old age of 52, recovering from the low point of his writing. In 1954, he was award the Nobel Prize for literature.

I enjoyed his writing in “Old Man and the Sea;” it was simple to understand and yet elegant. After knowing a little of his life story (Wikipedia Link here), now I can truly appreciate his other work like the short stories. Will be reading them soon.