Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961

Sold by Vintage
Free sample

From a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, a brilliantly conceived and illuminating reconsideration of a key period in the life of Ernest Hemingway that will forever change the way he is perceived and understood.

Focusing on the years 1934 to 1961—from Hemingway’s pinnacle as the reigning monarch of American letters until his suicide—Paul Hendrickson traces the writer’s exultations and despair around the one constant in his life during this time: his beloved boat, Pilar.

We follow him from Key West to Paris, to New York, Africa, Cuba, and finally Idaho, as he wrestles with his best angels and worst demons. Whenever he could, he returned to his beloved fishing cruiser, to exult in the sea, to fight the biggest fish he could find, to drink, to entertain celebrities and friends and seduce women, to be with his children. But as he began to succumb to the diseases of fame, we see that Pilar was also where he cursed his critics, saw marriages and friendships dissolve, and tried, in vain, to escape his increasingly diminished capacities.

Generally thought of as a great writer and an unappealing human being, Hemingway emerges here in a far more benevolent light. Drawing on previously unpublished material, including interviews with Hemingway’s sons, Hendrickson shows that for all the writer’s boorishness, depression, and alcoholism, and despite his choleric anger, he was capable of remarkable generosity—to struggling writers, to lost souls, to the dying son of a friend.

We see most poignantly his relationship with his youngest son, Gigi, a doctor who lived his adult life mostly as a cross-dresser, and died squalidly and alone in a Miami women’s jail. He was the son Hemingway forsook the least, yet the one who disappointed him the most, as Gigi acted out for nearly his whole life so many of the tortured, ambiguous tensions his father felt. Hendrickson’s bold and beautiful book strikingly makes the case that both men were braver than we know, struggling all their lives against the complicated, powerful emotions swirling around them. As Hendrickson writes, “Amid so much ruin, still the beauty.”

Hemingway’s Boat is both stunningly original and deeply gripping, an invaluable contribution to our understanding of this great American writer, published fifty years after his death.

From the Hardcover edition.
Read more

About the author

Paul Hendrickson’s previous book, Sons of Mississippi, won the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. Since 1998 he has been on the faculty of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania. For two decades before that he was a staff writer at The Washington Post. Among his other books are Looking for the Light: The Hidden Life and Art of Marion Post Wolcott (1992 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award) and The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War (1996 finalist for the National Book Award). He has been the recipient of writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. In 2009 he was a joint visiting professor of documentary practice at Duke University and of American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the father of two grown sons and lives with his wife, Cecilia, outside Philadelphia.

From the Hardcover edition.
Read more


9 total

Additional Information

Read more
Published on
Sep 20, 2011
Read more
Read more
Read more
Read more
Read more
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
Literary Collections / American / General
Literary Criticism / Modern / 20th Century
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
In June of 1961, A. E. Hotchner visited a close friend in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary's Hospital. It would be the last time they spoke - three weeks later, Ernest Hemingway returned home, where he took his own life. Their final conversation was also the final installment in a saga that Hemingway had unraveled for Hotchner over years of world travel.

Ernest always kept a few of his special experiences off the page, storing them as insurance against a dry-up of ideas. But after a near miss with death, he entrusted his most meaningful tale to Hotchner, so that if he never got to write it himself, then at least someone would know. In characteristically pragmatic terms, Hemingway divulged the details of the affair that destroyed his first marriage: the truth of his romantic life in Paris and how he gambled and lost Hadley, the great love he'd spend the rest of his life seeking.

But the search was not without its notable moments, and he told of those, too: of impotence cured in a house of God; of back-to-back plane crashes in the African bush, one of which nearly killed him, while he emerged from the other brandishing a bottle of gin and a bunch of bananas; of cocktails and commiseration with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker; of adventure, human error, and life after lost love. This is Hemingway as few have known him - humble, thoughtful, and full of regret.

To protect the feelings of Ernest's wife, Mary, who was also a close friend, Hotch kept these conversations to himself for decades. Now he tells the story as Hemingway told it to him. Hemingway in Love puts you in the room with the master and invites you to listen as he relives the drama of those young, definitive years that set the course for the rest of his life and dogged him to the end of his days.

©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.