So you can read my books

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


The ghost of Ernest Hemingway was glum last week.

As he sat beside me on my rare blood runs, he talked about Hadley, his first wife.

"She inspired my first short stories you know.  On this date today in 1925, I finished the first draft of THE SUN ALSO RISES."

He rubbed his face wearily. 

"A little more than a year later, it was published, and I dedicated it to her.  But in those months I  had strangled our marriage by my affair with Pauline Pfeiffer."

I nodded silently.  I didn't know what to say.  I knew from earlier times with him

how Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway were the golden couple of Paris in the twenties.

 They had been the center of an expatriate community boasting the likes of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and James and Nora Joyce.

In his haunting accounts of he and Hadley, he explored their passionate courtship, their family life in Paris with baby Bumby, and their thrilling, adventurous relationship —

a literary love story scarred by Hadley’s loss of the only copy of Hemingway’s first novel and ultimately destroyed by a devastating mÉnage À trois on the French Riviera.

Hadley was the remarkable woman who inspired his passion and his art—the only woman Hemingway never stopped loving.

As I drove the night through, the interstate grudgingly giving up only a few feet of its surface under the feeble headlights, Hemingway sighed like the evening's lost winds.

"Fifteen years later, on this day in 1942, Hadley wrote me to ask if I wanted a stack of letters from the old Paris days which she had just found in her basement.

At that point, I was beginning a new marriage —

in five weeks I would divorce Pfeiffer,

in eight weeks I would marry Martha Gellhorn.

I remember my reply to Hadley. I asked for the letters, and I foolishly tried to turn back the clock. 

I read and re-read that passage so often before I mailed it that it remains fixed in my mind even now when I am but a shade --

'Imagine if we had been born at a time when we could never have had Paris when we were young.

Do you remember the races out at Enghien and the first time we went to Pamplona by ourselves and that wonderful boat the Leopoldina and Cortina D’Ampezzo and the Black Forest?

Last night I couldn’t sleep and so I just remembered all the things we’d ever done and all our songs—

“A feather kitty’s talent lies
In scratching out the other’s eyes
A feather kitty never dies.
 Oh immortality.”

We have three good cats here…. When I can’t sleep at night I tell them stories about F. Puss [Feather Puss, our Paris cat]….

Good bye Miss Katherine Kat.

I love you very much. It is all right to do so because it hasn’t anything to do with you and that great Paul.

 It’s just untransferable feeling for early and best Gods. But I will never mention it if bad. Thought you might just be interested to know.'
Beside me in the dark of the van, Hemingway squeezed shut his eyes and his meaty fists, murmuring, "The dirt is my lover now."

{If you wish to read an amazing account of Ernest and Hadley's Paris love, read PARIS WITHOUT END:  (A great read for $6)  }

Who inspired or inspires you, my friends?

This photgraphic image is from the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (JFK Library). This image was originally created and/or owned by Ernest Hemingway and/or his wife Mary Hemingway.

After Ernest Hemingway's death, his widow Mary donated many of his papers, photographs and other items to the JFK Library, and transferred the copyright for images she owned to the JFK Library.

The JFK Library is part of the National Archives, an agency of the United States Federal Government, and has released the photos into the public domain. This photo is marked "Public Domain" on its web page at the JFK Library. 

Don't miss Donna Hole's shout-out for my GHOST OF A CHANCE HALLOWEEN CONTEST:


  1. So sad!
    My wife is my inspiration. And I'm not ever letting go of her.

  2. Why do brilliant people seem to screw up their lives?

  3. Everyone around me, past, present, and future, every living and inanimate thing (and is there a difference?) has in some way inspired me.

    - Eric

  4. Alex:
    Wise man!

    Perhaps it is more opportunity because of their talent and genius?

    Another wise man! :-)

  5. There's another book about Hadley and Hemingway in Paris - called The Paris Wife, which seems to be about the same subject. It sounds very similar.

    The man playing Hemingway in Midnight in Paris looked more authentic than the man in the trailer.

    Life inspires me.

  6. D.G.:
    THE PARIS WIFE is a fictionalized account told as if by Hadley with words put into her mouth and into the mouth of others.

    PARIS WITHOUT END is biographical, using actual tapes of Hadley and others with their letters used as reference as well.

    Yes, the actor who portrayed Hemingway in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS struck me as authentic. Clive Owen is merely playing himself, playing Hemingway. The MIDNIGHT actor made you believe he WAS Hemingway!

    To be inspired by life is the way to be, Roland

  7. No one person or thing inspires me. Inspiration comes to me usually in the most unexpected places.

    Life has so much inspiration to offer. Forest Gump would agree that, Much like a box of assorted chocolates, we can only guess if the one we pick is the one we will like the best.

  8. Siv:
    Sounds like you are a bit of the mind of D.G.: to allow all of life to inspire you.

    Appreciate each bit of chocolate life allows us to bite into, for we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Live and write in the moment.

    Thank you for the helpful words on my revised prologue to Victor! :-)

    Currently, I am listening to Apasionada by Joseph Williams, imagining Victor and Alice dancing a tango as enemies close in on them on the dance floor.

  9. I've been wanting to see this movie Roland. Sad in many ways. fame seems to bring straying which is also sad.


  10. So much. Art, books, films...too many things, not to mention people I admire.

  11. Watching the reflected light on snowflakes greatly influenced my first book.

    My grandmother, for her quiet strength and love filled heart.

    My husband, because he puts up!

  12. Sia:
    I think fame allows more opportunity to stray and gives the illusion of entitlement. As you say, very sad.

    To be blessed with a great father is truly a gift.

    Nature restores me as well ... so long as it stays at a safe distance. Much of nature is red in tooth and claw!

    Grandmothers are a source of blessing that so many these days no longer have.

    Understanding husbands are rarer than gold! You are indeed blessed. Roland