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Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure Kindle Edition
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This book is based on the BBC TV program where Mr. Palin traveled to all of the places where Ernest Hemingway had lived and traveled. One can't really say the program "follows Hemingway's footsteps" because some sequences are presented out of order, but it's all there:
Chicago and northern Illinois (Hemingway's youth)
Italy (WW I and duck hunting)
Paris (Hemingway's start as an author)
Spain (running with the bulls, bullfighting)
Key West (fishing, boxing)
Africa (hunting, airplane crash injuries)
Cuba (fishing, Hemingway's home for 20 years)
Montana and Idaho (dude ranches, Hemingway's death)
Each chapter that describes a place almost invariably leaves the reader smiling and thinking that it would be interesting to visit that place oneself.
Incidentally, my high opinion of this book (and the associated TV program) has nothing to do with any interest in Hemingway's authorship. I read "The Old Man and the Sea" when I was in high school, and have not read anything by Hemingway since. Still, I find his life interesting, and I think that Michael Palin has made a great travelogue by visiting the various places and telling about Hemingway's life.
I can especially recommend the audio version of this book, which is read by Michael Palin himself. He does a great job of delivering the dialog of the various people, all with their different accents.
Of course, the audio version of the book does not include the beautiful photographs, so the very best strategy might be to get both, and listen to the audio version while commuting and then look at the pictures when you get home.
As you read it you get to know not only the author, but you feel as if you have spent time in Hemingway's company. The book is richly illustrated with stunning photographs which tell a lot in addition to the printed text.
The numerous quotations from Hemingway's novels help to make the book more coherent, and also give insight on Hemingway's life.
An excellent read for Hemingway fans, for those who know little or nothing about him, or for anyone who is interested in seeing different cultures and ways of life.
Regarding the book itself, it is an unusual contrast of personalities between Palin and Hemingway but this is a strength rather than a weakness. Palin's viewpoint makes for a more insightful read with the juxtaposition of the characters and lives of the two men. The chapter on the Florida Keys had a particular resonance for me as I've visited Key West. The six toed cats are a real tourist attraction and I've met Bill Clinton, the neutered ginger tom who is pictured in the book. Incidentally Basil Pao's photograph's are stunning and very evocative, the annotated satellite photograph's are very useful and informative.
All in all a first class book, which I shall be giving to a couple of my friends as an early Christmas present.
However as it went on the book got more and more interesting, and for someone who hasn't seen the series or read much Hemingway, it really felt as though I was reading a short but thorough biography of him.
It made a good book to read on holiday and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel writing and/or Hemingway.
Palin has researched this in some depth and is obviously a fan of the writing. This book appears to be a labour of love and not just a cheap stocking filler. For those of us who would like to know more about Ernest, his books and his life this is a good place to start. Its like asking a trusted friend for advice on a complex subject. Armed with this advice the reader will be encourage to make their own judgement on a complicated man and his extraordinary life.
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