Thursday, December 12, 2019

Channelling Papa: Scott Stavrou's Collected Blog Posts of Ernest Hemingway

OK, so you're a Hemingway fan. You've read everything you could find that he has written. Then you've read all the books you could find about his lives, his wives and the places he's lived. What else is out there?

OR, you have a friend who is into Hemingway in a big way. He or she has read everything by him, about him and about his lives and wives and the places he's lived. Is there something new and different that you might find for this special person's stocking this Christmas?

The answer is yes. Scott Stavrou's Collected Blog Posts of Ernest Hemingway could be just what you're looking for. The Collected Blog Posts is not only a hilarious read, it's an excellent example of parody. The actual correct title is Hemingway Lives: the Super-Secret, Never-Before-Published Blogs of Ernest Hemingway.

Stavrou, who lives in Las Vegas, is a graduate of Georgetown University. He's a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, with a notable PEN International Hemingway Prize for fiction under his belt. The story which earned him this award was true and good, bearing the title Across the Suburbs and Into the Express Lane at Vons.

The Collected Blog Posts is Stavrou's fourth book, the first three being Wasted Away, Picketing With Promethues, and Losing Venice: A Novel.

There are three reasons I've been enjoying the book. First off, because it's great fun. As I move through the stories I keep smiling, and who doesn't like smiling? Second, because I'm a Hemingway fan, so it resonates. And third, most importantly to me, each chapter--or blog post--seems to trigger creative juices.

It's not that I need to write like Hemingway or do parody, but it opens the door a crack to show more possibilities for one's writing. Are you a writer who has begun to feel like your work is getting stale? Do you need a cherry bomb to disrupt you or get your attention. That's what Stavrou's book is doing to me.

Here's a line from the introduction that sets the tone: "Many things are lost, not just generations. Things like innocence, faith, keys, or universal remote controls."

It's drenched with Papa references, a 21st century Hemingway like you've never known before. Chapter titles include At Noon the Bell Tolls, The Cold Man & the Seasons, Mailmen Without Women, The Dow Also Rises.

Theoretically, it could be a fun party game to have ten of these books (if you had ten guests) that you pulled out and said, "List as many references to Hemingway stories and books as you can in the next fifteen minutes." They'd be required to use the Table of Contents only. Afterwards everyone gets to keep their book and you can all check in once a week to find out how many you found in each chapter.

If you don't want to invest in that many books, you can just buy one and photocopy the table of contents. (This won't work very easily with the Kindle version.)

As a blogger I especially enjoyed this chapter: Hemingway Titles Retitled to Boost Website Traffic. (That one was a shorter blog post.) The book also has some great illustrations.

Hemingway Lives: the Super-Secret, Never-Before-Published Blogs of Ernest Hemingway isn't a book that you read in one sitting. No one will ever, to my knowledge, read Ennyman's Territory from beginning to end in a single sitting, or multiple sitings. Blog posts are intended to be bite-sized, not feast-sized, reading. Stavrou's book is a moveable feast that you can carry with you anywhere you go, and nibble from as you go along, whether on a subway, in an airport or at tonight's AirBnB on the other side of the river and through the woods.

Meantime, life goes on. Dig it.

Related Links
Interview with Scott Stavrou
Hemingway Lives on Amazon

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