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Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2011
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From a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, a brilliantly conceived and illuminating reconsideration of a key period in the life of Ernest Hemingway that will forever change the way he is perceived and understood.

Focusing on the years 1934 to 1961—from Hemingway’s pinnacle as the reigning monarch of American letters until his suicide—Paul Hendrickson traces the writer’s exultations and despair around the one constant in his life during this time: his beloved boat, Pilar.

We follow him from Key West to Paris, to New York, Africa, Cuba, and finally Idaho, as he wrestles with his best angels and worst demons. Whenever he could, he returned to his beloved fishing cruiser, to exult in the sea, to fight the biggest fish he could find, to drink, to entertain celebrities and friends and seduce women, to be with his children. But as he began to succumb to the diseases of fame, we see that Pilar was also where he cursed his critics, saw marriages and friendships dissolve, and tried, in vain, to escape his increasingly diminished capacities.

Generally thought of as a great writer and an unappealing human being, Hemingway emerges here in a far more benevolent light. Drawing on previously unpublished material, including interviews with Hemingway’s sons, Hendrickson shows that for all the writer’s boorishness, depression, and alcoholism, and despite his choleric anger, he was capable of remarkable generosity—to struggling writers, to lost souls, to the dying son of a friend.

We see most poignantly his relationship with his youngest son, Gigi, a doctor who lived his adult life mostly as a cross-dresser, and died squalidly and alone in a Miami women’s jail. He was the son Hemingway forsook the least, yet the one who disappointed him the most, as Gigi acted out for nearly his whole life so many of the tortured, ambiguous tensions his father felt. Hendrickson’s bold and beautiful book strikingly makes the case that both men were braver than we know, struggling all their lives against the complicated, powerful emotions swirling around them. As Hendrickson writes, “Amid so much ruin, still the beauty.”

Hemingway’s Boat is both stunningly original and deeply gripping, an invaluable contribution to our understanding of this great American writer, published fifty years after his death.
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Street Date:
09/20/2011
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307700537
ASIN:
B004J4X9OW
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APA Citation (style guide)

Paul Hendrickson. (2011). Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Paul Hendrickson. 2011. Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Paul Hendrickson, Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Paul Hendrickson. Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Paul Hendrickson’s previous book, Sons of Mississippi, won the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. Since 1998 he has been on the faculty of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania. For two decades before that he was a staff writer at The Washington Post. Among his other books are Looking for the Light: The Hidden Life and Art of Marion Post Wolcott (1992 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award) and The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War (1996 finalist for the National Book Award). He has been the recipient of writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. In 2009 he was a joint visiting professor of documentary practice at Duke University and of American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the father of two grown sons and lives with his wife, Cecilia, outside Philadelphia.
      • name: Paul Hendrickson
imprint
Vintage
publishDate
2011-09-20T00:00:00-04:00
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title
Hemingway's Boat
fullDescription
From a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, a brilliantly conceived and illuminating reconsideration of a key period in the life of Ernest Hemingway that will forever change the way he is perceived and understood.

Focusing on the years 1934 to 1961—from Hemingway’s pinnacle as the reigning monarch of American letters until his suicide—Paul Hendrickson traces the writer’s exultations and despair around the one constant in his life during this time: his beloved boat, Pilar.

We follow him from Key West to Paris, to New York, Africa, Cuba, and finally Idaho, as he wrestles with his best angels and worst demons. Whenever he could, he returned to his beloved fishing cruiser, to exult in the sea, to fight the biggest fish he could find, to drink, to entertain celebrities and friends and seduce women, to be with his children. But as he began to succumb to the diseases of fame, we see that Pilar was also where he cursed his critics, saw marriages and friendships dissolve, and tried, in vain, to escape his increasingly diminished capacities.

Generally thought of as a great writer and an unappealing human being, Hemingway emerges here in a far more benevolent light. Drawing on previously unpublished material, including interviews with Hemingway’s sons, Hendrickson shows that for all the writer’s boorishness, depression, and alcoholism, and despite his choleric anger, he was capable of remarkable generosity—to struggling writers, to lost souls, to the dying son of a friend.

We see most poignantly his relationship with his youngest son, Gigi, a doctor who lived his adult life mostly as a cross-dresser, and died squalidly and alone in a Miami women’s jail. He was the son Hemingway forsook the least, yet the one who disappointed him the most, as Gigi acted out for nearly his whole life so many of the tortured, ambiguous tensions his father felt. Hendrickson’s bold and beautiful book strikingly makes the case that both men were braver than we know, struggling all their lives against the complicated, powerful emotions swirling around them. As Hendrickson writes, “Amid so much ruin, still the beauty.”

Hemingway’s Boat is both stunningly original and deeply gripping, an invaluable contribution to our understanding of this great American writer, published fifty years after his death.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: -Michael Korda, Newsweek Favorite Books 2011
      • content:

        "I read [Hemingway's Boat] without a pause . . . [It's] a biography that is at once admiring and devastating, and full of material that I wouldn't have thought even existed and of people who knew Hemingway whom I'd never heard of--an eye opener of a book, full of unexpected riches, fascinating digressions, and leaving one at the end wishing the book were longer, and thinking long and hard about the price of fame and success in America, and the dangers of seemingly getting everything you wanted out of life--it just may be the best book I've read this year, and certainly the best book I've read about an American writer in a long, long time."

      • premium: False
      • source: -Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune Top Picks of 2011
      • content: "A lyrical and expansive search for the essence of a famous writer--heart, soul, and hull."
      • premium: False
      • source: -The Economist Books of the Year 2011
      • content: "The author, an accomplished storyteller, interprets myriad tiny details of Ernest Hemingway's life, and through them says something new about a writer everyone thinks they know."
      • premium: False
      • source: -San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2011
      • content: "Hendrickson's engrossing book offers a fresh slant on the rise and fall of a father figure of American literature."
      • premium: False
      • source: -The Irish Times
      • content: "Hendrickson deftly maps out the 'irresolvable differences' within Hemingway in this rather unusual take on biography, explaining that although Hemingway's writing is 'rooted in geography' and 'linear movements', his life, 'like his boat, beat against so many cross-currents'--as Hendrickson's own exploration does, taking many 'departures from the main frame'. In doing so, he surveys a huge amount of information: boat journals, letters--Hemingway wrote several thousand over his lifetime--and interviews with figures routinely seen as footnotes by most major Hemingway biographers. . . . The boat is the spiritual centre of the book, and however far Hendrickson strays he always brings us back to her, bobbing on the azure waters. . . . [T]he book becomes more than a study of Hemingway; it is a study of frailty, imagination, humanity, fathers and sons (all kinds) and torment. . . . 'Memory is hunger,' Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast. Hendrickson has achieved the near impossible and increased that hunger. In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Papa writes, 'No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude', yet Hendrickson gets closer than most, taking the mantle out of the hands of the industry and into the arms of poetry."
      • premium: False
      • source: -Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2011: The Top 10
      • content: "There's never been a biography quite like this one . . . The stories are rich with contradiction and humanity, and so raw and immediate you can smell the salt air."
      • premium: False
      • source: -James Salter, The New York Review of Books
      • content: "Rich and enthralling . . . Paul Hendrickson is a deeply informed and inspired guide. He often appears in the first person, addressing the reader and exhorting him or her to speculate, imagine, or feel. He has researched exhaustively, been to the places Hemingway frequented, and talked to whoever was part of or had a connection to the Hemingway days. His diligence and spirit are remarkable. It is like traveling with an irrepressible talker who may go off on tangents but never loses the power to amaze . . . Hemingway's Boat is a book written with the virtuosity of a novelist, hagiographic in the right way, sympathetic, assiduous, and imaginative. It does not rival the biographies but rather stands brilliantly beside them--the sea, Key West, Cuba, all the places, the life he had and gloried in. His commanding personality comes to life again in these pages, his great charm and warmth as well as his egotism and aggression."
      • premium: False
      • source: -Howell Raines, The Washington Post
      • content: "Large-minded [and] rigorously fair . . . An indispensable document . . . With this sterling summation of the entire Hemingway canon, Hendrickson shows what has eluded some very able scholars. A writer's life can contain two conflicting existences, one of purely original genius and one of irreversible destructiveness. It's a lucky genius who gets credit for the first and a free pass on the second. Hendrickson issues no free pass to Papa. He gives the ravaged old man something more honest: a fair summing-up of a life like no other."
      • premium: False
      • source: -Allan Massie, The
      • content: "A rich book and a wandering one . . . Hem
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from July 11, 2011
        NBCC–award winner Hendrickson (Sons of Mississippi) offers an admirably absorbing, important, and moving interpretation of Hemingway's ambitions, passions, and tragedies during the last 27 years of his life. When Hemingway purchased the sleek fishing boat Pilar in 1934, he was on the cusp of literary celebrity, flush with good health, and ebullient about pursuing deep sea adventures. The release from his desk was a reward for productive writing and the change replenished his creative energy. But eventually Hemingway's health and work declined. When he committed suicide in 1961, he hadn't been aboard the Pilar in many months. Acutely sensitive to his subject's volatile, "gratuitously mean" personality, Hendrickson offers fascinating details and sheds new light on Hemingway's kinder, more generous side from interviews with people befriended by Hemingway in his prime. Most importantly, Hendrickson interviewed each of Hemingway's sons. He suggests, not for the first time but with poignant detail, the probability that Papa's youngest son, Gregory (Gigi), a compulsive cross-dresser who eventually had gender-altering surgery, was acting out impulses that his father yearned for yet denied. Hendrickson makes new connections between ex-wife Pauline's sudden death after Hemingway's cruel accusations against Gigi, and Gigi's lifelong guilt over her death. In the end, Hendrickson writes of the tormented Gigi and his conflicted father, "I consider them far braver than we ever knew." 23 illus.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from August 15, 2011

        A splendid view of Papa and his beloved boat Pilar.

         "You know you love the sea and would not be anywhere else," wrote Ernest Hemingway in Islands in the Stream. In 1934, already the "reigning monarch of American literature" for The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, he bought a 38-foot motorized fishing vessel at a Brooklyn boatyard and set out for the Caribbean. "Mr. H. is like a wild thing with his boat," wrote Pauline, his second wife. An integral part of his final 27 years, Pilar offered afternoons of solace on waters between Key West and Cuba, during which Hemingway fished, drank, wrote, bickered with wives and sons and entertained visitors. A former Washington Post feature writer and winner of a National Book Critics Circle award, Hendrickson (Nonfiction Writing/Univ. of Pennsylvania; Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Its Legacy, 2003, etc.) offers a moving, highly evocative account of Hemingway's turbulent later years, when he lost the favor of critics, the love of wives and friends and, ultimately, his ability to write. Drawing on interviews, documents (including 34 Pilar logs) and secondary sources, the author succeeds in restoring a sense of Hemingway the man, seen as a flawed, self-sabotaging individual whose kindness and gentleness have been overlooked in accounts of his cruel and boorish side. Even as he attacked critics and fired his shotgun angrily at sea birds, the tortured author proved remarkably sweet and friendly to many, including Arnold Samuelson, an admiring young writer who became Hemingway's assistant on Pilar; and Walter Houk, now in his 80s, who remembers the author fondly as "a great man with great faults." Seven years in the making, this vivid portrait allows us to see Hemingway on the Pilar once again, standing on the flying bridge and guiding her out of the harbor at sunrise.

        Appearing on the 50th anniversary of Hemingway's death, this beautifully written, nuanced meditation deserves a wide audience.

         

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 1, 2011

        Fifty years after Ernest Hemingway's death, Hendrickson profiles the great writer from the height of his career onward by focusing on his constant return for fun and solace to his beloved boat, Pilar. Sounds a bit offbeat, but Hendrickson has the credentials to pull it off; his Sons of Mississippi, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, made good history out of a single photograph of seven segregation-era sheriffs with a billy club. With a five-city tour.

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from September 1, 2011
        In previous, riveting books about Robert McNamara (The Living and the Dead, 1996) and civil-rights-era murder (Sons of Mississippi, 2003), Hendrickson peered into the intersection of melancholy and history. The story of Ernest Hemingway offers more of that, in spades. Less a biography than a deeply reported, achingly considered meditative essay, Hemingway's Boat covers a vast amount of territory in the life of the mythic, difficult-to-understand Papa, all of it coming back in some way to Hemingway's beloved 38-foot, two-engine, ocean-plying Pilar. Fishing, fatherhood, manhood, writing, the infinite pull of the Gulf Streamthese constitute only the starting point of Hendrickson's sympathetic, illuminating wanderings. To him, the Pilar represents the nexus of Hemingway's outsize, complicated, and sad yearnings, personal relationships, and many losses, none perhaps as poignant as the volatile chasm between Hemingway and his youngest, gender-confused son, Gregory. Hendrickson has previously profiled the three Hemingway sons. In returning to this much-traveled country, he tracks down overlooked voices and continues a personal quest. Of fishing, a young Hemingway wrote, It's not the duration of sensation but its intensity that counts. Hendrickson's book is filled with intensity, humanity, and more.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

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From a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, a brilliantly conceived and illuminating reconsideration of a key period in the life of Ernest Hemingway that will forever change the way he is perceived and understood.

Focusing on the years 1934 to 1961—from Hemingway’s pinnacle as the reigning monarch of American letters until his suicide—Paul Hendrickson traces the writer’s exultations and despair around the one constant in his life during this time: his beloved boat, Pilar.

We follow him from Key West to Paris, to New York, Africa, Cuba, and finally Idaho, as he wrestles with his best angels and worst demons. Whenever he could, he returned to his beloved fishing cruiser, to exult in the sea, to fight the biggest fish he could find, to drink, to entertain celebrities and friends and seduce women, to be with his children. But as he began to succumb to the diseases of fame, we see that Pilar was also where he cursed his critics,...
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Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group