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With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba Paperback – August 1, 1988


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (P) (August 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0030056179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0030056178
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
It is astonishing that this book is so little known. Here is a memoir which records Hemingway's insights on writing as given to his only pupil, a young writer/hobo who shows up one day at Hemingway's Key West house hoping for a few words of advice. "He left me with that damned marvelous feeling you can have only once in a lifetime if you are a young man who wants to become a writer and you have just met the man you admire as the greatest writer alive and you know instinctively that he is already your friend." Impulsively Hemingway hires the twenty-two-year-old "tramp" to guard his new boat, the Pilar. Samuelson carefully records Hemingway's thoughts on writing (including a "mandatory" reading list for the young, aspiring writer). Not only does the book illuminate Hemingway, his life, his fishing, his family and his work, but it also tells the story of a fascinating individual who spent a year with him.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Vogt on September 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was given a beat up hardcover edition of this book that a friend had found on the street in Brooklyn. By the looks of it (moldy and wrinkled at the edges) and fact that I'd never heard of it I sort of figured it would be a poorly written book. I was entirely wrong. After three days I reread it and I still think that compared to some of the biographies I've read this little book does more to explain the man and his character better than any of them.
Samuelson creates a world lost in time: Key West in the 1930's, before it became an overpopulated Mecca for drunken tourists. The reader is welcomed aboard the Pilar, not only as a spectator but also as a member of the crew, fishing the stream, drinking short sips of whiskey and occasionally discussing what makes good writing.
Arnold Samuelson's conversations reveal the stoic and sometimes brutally honest characteristics of one of America's most beloved writers. If you want to understand Hemingway, how he thought, what he valued, and the way he carried himself then I would highly recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Marks VINE VOICE on March 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read WITH HEMINGWAY not because I was interested in Hemingway (I am, but mildly so), but because my father was from Key West, I have many happy childhood memories there, am returning for a brief trip in the near future, and wanted to immerse myself in its historical milieu. Little of the book is actually about life in Key West, but it is nevertheless a superb read, because author Arnold Samuelson is a skilled storyteller.

An aspiring writer as a young man, Samuelson had wanted to meet the great Hemingway, and certainly didn't expect that Hemingway would feel fatherly toward him, taking him on as an employee on his boat, the Pilar, and mentoring him as a writer. The result is a compelling narrative of his year with Hemingway, brimming with personal reflections about the man and their experience fishing together.

The surprise for me, since I have no interest in fishing, is that some of the fishing episodes were so well written and emotionally compelling that I read some of then twice. What stands out most in this regard is the day the crew encountered literally thousands of dolphins leaping in the water around them:

"At the top of their jump they appeared to be suspended motionless in midair, heads erect, hanging from an invisible line, before they turned and went down. Then hundreds of them began taking long, horizontal leaps and the air was filled with them, in the distance looking like a flock of birds flying low over the water, swooping down, coming up and diving again."

At least as rich an experience as reading the fishing episodes is the advice Hemingway gave Samuelson about writing - a goldmine of at least ten pages which, as a writer myself, I copied word for word into my writing journal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dion Wright on November 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
The best quality of this book is the clean language worthy of Hemingway. Samuelson had an ear for exact quoting. His manuscript lay in a trunk until after his death, when his daughter found it, and decided to publish. Lucky us.
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By Kendra M. on July 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Essential for anyone who wants to try to understand Hemingway.
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