I interrupt the otherwise constant static that is this blog to post from a NYT article. Anyone who knows me I have a senseless fascination with the person/idea/ideal that is Hemingway. This Op-Ed was written by a close friend of his and was their final conversation.
I visited him in June. He had been given a new series of shock treatments, but it was as before: the car bugged, his room bugged. I said it very gently: “Papa, why do you want to kill yourself?”
“What do you think happens to a man going on 62 when he realizes that he can never write the books and stories he promised himself? Or do any of the other things he promised himself in the good days?”
“But how can you say that? You have written a beautiful book about Paris, as beautiful as anyone can hope to write.”
“The best of that I wrote before. And now I can’t finish it.”
I told him to relax or even retire.
“Retire?” he said. “Unlike your baseball player and your prizefighter and your matador, how does a writer retire? No one accepts that his legs are shot or the whiplash gone from his reflexes. Everywhere he goes, he hears the same damn question: what are you working on?”
I told him he never cared about those dumb questions.
“What does a man care about? Staying healthy. Working good. Eating and drinking with his friends. Enjoying himself in bed. I haven’t any of them. You understand, goddamn it? None of them.” Then he turned on me. I was just like the others, pumping him for information and selling him out to the feds. After that day, I never saw him again.