It seems like every moment of the life of Ernest Hemingway has been disected and examined and fictionalized in print and on screen, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to the flow of material. Today, the film “Papa: Hemingway in Cuba” opens. The movie tells the story (based on a memoir) of a young reporter who visits Hemingway at his home in Cuba and gets involved in the Cuban Revolution. The film purports to be the first movie shot on the island in 50 years. “Papa” is getting crushed by critics – it’s current at 10% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, dipping almost, but not quite, into what I like to call the Ted Cruz-range.
Harry Crews was a tremendous devotee of Hemingway, as one might imagine. It’s not a stretch to say that Harry took much of the Hemingway ethic in the way he lived his life – the placement of writing above all else, the desire to take experience and use it to create fiction. As Hemingway said, the goal was to “write one true sentence, and then another,” and Harry Crews adopted that as a goal as well. Hemingway’s story “The Killers” was on Harry’s syllabus for 30 years, as was “The Old Man and the Sea.” Harry liked to tell the story of how he wept when he heard about Hemingway’s suicide in 1960. Hemingway himself likely would have wept if he saw the final cut of “Papa: Hemingway in Cuba.”