In 1948, Cosmopolitan sent a young A.E. Hotchner to Havana to solicit an article from Ernest Hemingway. Hotchner’s errand resulted in a 13-year friendship between the two writers, which ended with Hemingway’s 1961 suicide. Hotchner memorialized that friendship in his 1966 memoir, “Papa Hemingway.”
Now, with “Hemingway in Love: His Own Story,” Hotchner updates the story with material he omitted from the earlier book, detailing Hemingway’s love for his first wife, Hadley Richardson, and his regret over the destruction of their marriage by his affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, who became his second wife.
“Hemingway in Love” consists largely of long paragraphs of Hemingway’s reminiscences, which Hotchner quotes with little interruption or interpretation. The result is somewhat stilted: Hemingway talks, and Hotchner prompts him with questions but largely limits his role as writer to details of where they were and what they were drinking when the conversation took place. (One thing the book definitely confirms is Hemingway’s capacity for alcohol.)
One wishes for more insight from Hotchner, although perhaps that’s unrealistic, considering that the book is meant to give Hemingway’s take on events that occurred long before Hotchner came on the scene. Still, this is a book for Hemingway completists who want another angle on the complex Hemingway story. Others might better stick to “A Moveable Feast” or one of the many Hemingway biographies.
John Reimringer’s first novel, “Vestments,” was a Publishers Weekly best book of 2010. He teaches at Normandale Community College in Bloomington.
HEMINGWAY IN LOVE
By: A.E. Hotchner.
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 172 pages, $19.99.