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Publisher's Summary

A revelatory look into the life and work of Ernest Hemingway, considered in his time to be the greatest living American novelist and short story writer, winner of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

Mary Dearborn's new biography gives the richest and most nuanced portrait to date of this complex, enigmatically unique American artist, whose same uncontrollable demons that inspired and drove him throughout his life undid him at the end and whose seven novels and six short story collections informed - and are still informing - fiction writing generations after his death.

©2017 Mary V. Dearborn (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A fine book undermined by performance

Would you consider the audio edition of Ernest Hemingway to be better than the print version?

In no way. The audio does the printed book a disservice.

Would you be willing to try another one of Tanya Eby’s performances?

Dearborn's work is very fine, as is her work on Mailer, Miller, etc. but unfortunately the spoken performance of this book has an almost patronizing tone: every aside or clause is overemphasized, and in several cases the inflection is just 'off' and doesn't sit well with the text. It sounds a little like Siri, or the flattened but forced affect of a computer reading. It's prim. Listening to Dearborn herself talk is lively, incisive. Not so with this performance, which I started to think was done by a 'bot'.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

author preoccupation

The story is really good as it shows just how human Hem was and all his flaws. That I really was entertained by. What I did not enjoy was the authors preoccupation with Hem's sexuality. If it's actual fact, sure tell us about it but when it's completely hearsay, then to continuously go back to it over and over again means it's important more to the author for some reason rather than delivering the actual story of his life. It's distracting because at one point I started listening for when the story would head that direction, which it did every time. I prefer bio's with the agenda only of delivering the story of a life as it actually was rather than speculation of the author for what ever reason.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A Highly Flawed Human Being

This book made me appreciate EH far less than I ever have before. His overhyped history will never never sound the same again. If as a human you are perhaps GREAT at something, do you get a pass on most of the rest of your life? Before listening to this biography, I had a Hemingway quotation hanging on the wall of my office. It has since been removed.

Read at your own risk...

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting biography and great narration

The narrator does a excellent job, one of the best I have listened to. The biography is very interesting but has a few holes and places that I wish she would have explained better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Dearborn Doesn't Like Papa and You Won't Either

Ernest Hemingway was charismatic and had a gift for simple writing, which he based largely on the style of Owen Wister, author of The Virginian (1902). He called his style the "Iceberg Method", because the visible part, above the water/on the page, is just a small portion of the subject. Hemingway lived large and wrote his experiences down in a fictional format. Of course, he twisted things, making himself more heroic in the lead role of his books and savaging his friends throughout the pages. He became legendary, and burned almost all the bridges along the way.

He was also an arse, prone to lying, attacking his friends, drunkenness, reckless behavior (like driving and handling firearms while drunk, sometimes both at the same time). He was happiest getting/being drunk, surrounded by syphocants, telling the same lies about his past over and over again. He went through 4 wives, the last of whom hated him (but was still married to him) at the time he killed himself.

He wrote only four good novels: The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea (more of a novella really). But what masterpieces they are. His few other novels were bad, like really bad. Some of his short stories are magnificent. But in the final analysis, his career quality is really uneven and his output fairly paltry.

But the subject is so thoroughly unsympathetic that the biography was a real chore to get through. Mary Dearborn doesn't hide her contempt for Hemmingway. She really ends up not liking her subject, but feels that a woman's view of the man should be penned for posterity, so she takes up the joyless task. Maybe I ended up not liking the man for seeing him through Mary's eyes. But probably not. He just really seems like an arse.

And he went crazy. It runs in his family. His father killed himself too. And sexual nonconformity and gender dysphoria run in the family. It is a messy cocktail. The poor women who were sucked into his orbit and became his wives! One really comes away feeling sorry for them.

One thing that jumped out at me was how Hemmingway was one of the first modern "Anywheres"--people who did not live in a place, were not from or of a place, but were from and of anywhere. Hemmingway followed the bullfighters in Spain from town to town. He spent some winters fishing from Key West or Havana, other winters were spent skiing in the Alps. He spent summers and falls on a ranch in Wyoming or Sun Valley Idaho. He took extended safari-hunts in Africa. He lived long stretches in Paris and often stayed months in New York City.

His success in reputation and money allowed his life to become unmoored, literally and figuratively. This rarely results in happiness and it certainly didn't for Hemmingway. Trading out wives and homes and countries and climes seemed like a desperate attempt to distract him from the fact that those who really knew him didn't like him--including his mother, his siblings, his peers (including a number who started out as friends), his wives, and eventually his children. He drove everyone away eventually. Enabled by his fame and his royalties, he became a monster. Then he went insane, contributed to by numerous head injuries, mostly resulting from stupidity.

And he shot himself and ended it all at age 61 after becoming so fat and neurotic that a young Italian beauty he wanted for wife number 5 refused to fall under his spell. Rather than face his body falling apart over the next decade due to his hard living and drinking while living with a wife who was mostly waiting around for him to die, he pulled the trigger. While the world mourned, his frenemies and family sighed relief.

I really wanted to like him and be inspired. Maybe I'm inspired--to be a Somewhere, moored to a place; to avoid addictions and dependence on drugs/alcohol; to not treat relationships as disposable; to not be jealous of and turn on friends; to keep myself humble and open to correction; to not be like Papa Hemmingway.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The book is great, performance is monotone.

I was looking forward to listening to this book on my commute to work, but the monotone narrator made me want to take a nap. I even checked back on Audible to see if the narration was done via a computer. The hard copy book is great, but the audio book was disappointing.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • D M BOYCE
  • Ooltewah, TN, United States
  • 09-05-18

Real Story.

Very interesting. thought I knew Hemmingway pretty well. was very well done. a good listen.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The last of a man's man.

Would you listen to Ernest Hemingway again? Why?
Yes. He interests me as a writer and a person and this book does present a fair amount of information.

What did you like best about this story?
Learning more about the man, the myth and the legend. Shows warts as well as praises.

What does Tanya Eby bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Emotion.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Laughed at the funny parts and felt sad as his depression started taking over his life.

Any additional comments?
I am not sure if Mary Dearborn is showing a feminine bias or a historical bias but there are several points in the book I felt that she did not understand the behavior of the American male in that time period when viewing him with her present day eyes. By today's standards Hemingway was a bully and a bore, but in the context of the age he lived in - he was not. His treatment of his wives came off one sided. She comes off as confused as Earnest may have been about his sexuality. His mother was in any age a whack job and would have confused anybody. But Mary Dearborn shows great understanding and empathy concerning the battle he had with depression. All in all she has written a good book on the greatest of American writers in the 20th. century.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A burning pile of post modern feminist shite

Immediately after submitting this review I will be requesting my credit back. The performance is fine. The narrator’s voice is not annoying. Usually a good narrator can take a mediocre book and improve the experience. Unfortunately the greatest narrator ever could not polish this turd.
Dearborn offers very little new information on Hemingway. What she does is reinterpret what is out there in her man hating, revisionist filter. What she can’t find in actual facts she invents from Hemingway’s fiction as a psychoanalysis basis. For example, she discounts EH’s well documented PTSD by stating that he wasn’t wounded that badly, that he only spent a month in combat and that he was lazy when he returned to the states after the war. I’m not going to go on. Worst biography ever written. Hemingway was not a modern man. He was a man of his times.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Detailed codified report of Papa's incredible life

While this book has been informative and interesting, it was difficult for me to get totally threw the 33 lengthy chapters due to the incredible details of Hemingway's life. It would be the perfect source 4 a screenwriter Desiring to right I scrapped on Hemingway's life.
I would have preferred an Abridged version that would have answered my curiosity about his life, but I'm glad I listened to the whole book. Sad that his life ended as it did as well as the lies of some of his siblings and sons.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful