If there are three books that are must owns for book lovers this year they are the just-released Hemingway collections from Scribner Classics - "Hemingway on War," "Hemingway on Hunting" and "Hemingway on Fishing."
The collections not only provide a detailed and deeply philosophical voice from the long deceased writer, but they are fantastic historical documents and, at times, technical manuals for the ill informed.
These collections gather sections from Hemingway's novels, short stories and reporting, everything that gives the reader a glimpse into a man who simply wanted to find truth through words. The books also provide a deeper historical context and a more personal touch from the introductions and forwards, most of which are written by Hemingway's own sons and grandsons.
The superior volume is, without question, "Hemingway on War." Hemingway not only became a war hero in World War I, but he also served as a war correspondent for decades. There was perhaps no other writer in history who had a more intimate relationship with combat between men than Ernest Hemingway. What "Hemingway on War" provides is not a weak collection of ramblings from a political hack; it provides a voice from a man who knows the deeper melancholies of soldiers and the longer ramifications of war.
Whether he is telling the story of a soldier adapting to civilian life or describing the brutality of men at war, he always strikes a note of truth that hits deep with the reader. Nothing feels false, and that is because Hemingway always saw his fiction as a way to capture a deeper honesty than that of a reporter. He tells about the human experience and the human spirit.
Another compliment which must be allotted is this: Hemingway is the type of writer that does not exist today and perhaps never will. He was an artist. His writings and muses cannot be thrown into the categories of left and right or even right and wrong. He examined the human spirit and the relationships between a man and woman, man and man and, most poetically, man and himself. He tells the stories of everyone from socialists to fascists. His politics are hard to nail because his writing supersedes such technicalities.
"Hemingway on Hunting" and "Hemingway on Fishing" should be just as treasured as their counterpart. There was arguably no greater expert on the matters of hunting and fishing than the man who defined machismo for a generation. Hemingway is able to not just provide fascinating technical manuals for beginners, but he is able to dig into the philosophical nature of such man hobbies without ever becoming the pretentious twit that many of his fellow writers were in his time period. He hits authenticity because he writes what he knows and cuts it down and down some more until there is nothing but truth. If only writers like this still existed.
Perhaps I'm just an old literature fan gushing at the opportunity to write about the man who gave more to the art form than he is given credit. However, if you hear truth in my words then I leave you with this, dear reader: take a break from life and the the world and politics for awhile and pick up these books.
Expose yourself to an art and authenticity in art that is almost non existent today. These collections are not hack jobs from a greedy publisher, they are great collections providing a deep meaning and analysis from one of America's great wordsmiths. If you have a reader in your family and want to know what to get him and what books he will truly find solace in, I declare that these may be it.