When I was a child, I was drawn to the knotty questions posed by Natalie Babbitt books:…
Tomas is 4 foot eleven, an unattractive dwarf. Then Hemingway wows me by bringing in the court dwarfs that appear in paintings by Velasquez..only this one’s in jeans, has broken teeth and likes Scotch whisky, which makes me presume that he is drinking Hemingway’s.
I like books by men who haven’t always had soft hands.
(Examples: Ed Abbey, Rick Bass, Wendell Berry, Raymond Carver, Dostoyevsky, Jim Harrison, Charles Bukowski, Barry Lopez, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Henry David Thoreau. What matters is that the author has done some kind of raw physical labor, either in a negative context (Carver or Bukowski’s menial jobs, Dostoyevsky’s forced labor) or ‘constructive’ (Berry, Thoureau).)
I have a theory that after thinking in childhood that we will never be alone, in adolescence we suddenly see that we are alone (big time), and then along comes First Love, and we jump, thinking maybe we don’t have to go it alone after all. This is the primal reason why we become readers — to have that deep companionship of a good book. But at seventeen, nothing — not loving parents, or sympathetic girlfriends, or any of the usual remedies — worked, at all.
A couple of weeks ago, we posted Greg Olear’s essay for the When We Fell In Love series, in which he wrote about The Sun Also Rises. Around the same time, we posted D. R. Haney’s WWFIL about William Faulkner. Over at The Nervous Breakdown, we had quite a few comments preferring one author or the other for various reasons; I fell in behind Uncle Bill, but admittedly hadn’t read any Hemingway since high school, aside from the stray short story.