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Hunting with Hemingway: Based on the Stories of Leicester Hemingway Hardcover – July 17, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Hilary Hemingway's father, Leicester Hemingway, committed suicide in 1982, 21 years after his famous older brother, Ernest. In 1997, Hilary's mother died and left her a mysterious audiocassette of Leicester telling hunting stories at the family home in Miami Beach. Are the stories true? Interjections by Leicester's wife and a good friend suggest they are well-polished yarns, designed to deflect Ernest idolaters like the unnamed English professor whose nervous laugh and awkward questions punctuate the recording. Does it matter if they're true? "These stories are really good," says Hilary's 7-year-old daughter. "I even like them and I really hate hunting." Indeed, Leicester's suspenseful tales of stalking crocodiles, ostriches, and tigers with his adored big brother evoke the glamorous Hemingway world of men pitted against beasts as a test of courage and grace under pressure. Listening to the recording on her daughter's purple Barney tape player, the author rediscovers "the big, laughing man" who taught her "to enjoy whatever life might throw at me"; she then comes to terms with his suicide in the face of a debilitating illness. Skillfully interweaving her father's voice with her own reflections in her meditative text, the author reminds us that the Hemingway legacy is not just one of swaggering machismo, but of love for family and pleasure in the physical world. --Wendy Smith

From Publishers Weekly

This is a disappointing narrative based on audiotaped accounts left by Hemingway's younger brother Leicester (himself a writer overshadowed by Ernest) and revealed here by Leicester's daughter. These tales, ostensibly related by Leicester to an anonymous professor researching the Hemingway mystique, are said to be ones "Papa never made public." The death-defying feats by Leicester and Ernest in Africa include escaping from a pack of man-eating wild dogs, killing a cobra that hovers inches from Leicester's head, even planting explosives on Nazi U-boats. Through listening to these tapes, an epiphany comes to Hilary about her father, who, like Ernest and his father before him, committed suicide: "Dad's stories are all that's important.... The stories are for you, for me, for everyone, to know my Dad as he really was, a man who had the courage to love life." Never before able to forgive his suicide, Hilary "for the first time... could mourn my father." The entire work seems apocryphal, which is forgivable; and the adventure stories themselves, while predictably misogynist, are relatively absorbing, but two factors ruin the integrity of this work. First is the mocking portrayal of the literature professor on the tape: he seems to have no manners, no real life experience and ridiculously symbolic interpretations of Hemingway stories. The stereotype is overdone to the point that few readers will sympathize with Hilary's father, a man who is hostile to even the most basic questions about himself and his brother. Second, while some of the information documented is important for anyone wishing to learn more about Hemingway's family, Hilary's frame narrative about her discovery of the tapes is so insipidly written that it reads like a work of young adult fiction. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition edition (July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573221597
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573221597
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,046,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I picked this book up at a local bookstore. I've never read anything by Hemingway (that I remember, anyway), so I thought I'd give it a shot. I couldn't believe the treasure I'd found! I've been lucky enough to travel a bit..through India, northern Europe and some of the Bahamas, and this book just made me ache for more travel. I couldn't put it down! I didn't read anyone else's review, because I didn't want it to taint my own, so here's the scenario: Ernest's brother's daughter (Ernest's niece) has a cassette of her father telling tales, in breathtaking precision and detail, of his hunting expeditions with his brother Ernest. This tape comes to her after her mother's death, and she is swept up in the emotions of hearing her father's voice and sharing the experience with her own family. I'm not a huge hunting buff, but this book showed a respect for life unlike what I've seen in many others. The way a place is described...a taste...a moment...it's difficult to read this and not imagine yourself exactly in the moment. I spent hours curled up in a papasan chair on my sun porch, transported and lost in Africa, India, on the seas...I can't praise it enough. It was breathtaking. I have just this morning started reading "True At First Light", hoping it will captivate me the way the other has done.
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Format: Hardcover
When her beloved mother died from cancer, she left Hilary with a cassette tape that recorded the musings of her long dead father, Leicester "Baron" Hemingway, Ernest's younger brother. The tape contained stories of the alleged exploits of Baron and Papa as they hunted game mostly in Africa. Hilary, her spouse Jeffrey, and their daughter Bear begin a quest to determine whether the stories are genuine or just tall tales from an excellent storyteller.

Even if a reader is not a Hemingway fan, they will absolutely enjoy HUNTING WITH HEMINGWAY because Baron's tales are entertaining and fun short stories. Whether the stories are true, hyperbole, or totally made-up, the insight into the relationship between Baron and his deep admiration and respect for Papa, who returns his sibling's love, humanizes one of the literary legends. Toss in Hilary's quest in search of her elusive father makes this one of the best anthology collections of the year.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Why isn't this excellent Kirkus review listed on your site along with the less-than-favorable ones from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal? Here's what Kirkus has to say:

Hemingway and Lindsay (Dreamland,1998) carry the Hemingway traditions of hunting family, and storytelling into the new millennium.

After her mother's death in 1997, Hilary, the daughter of Ernest's younger brother Leicester inherits an audiocassette. On the tape is a recording of a fireside story telling session given by Leicester who had committed suicide 15 years earlier. Hilary transcribes these tales she has never heard before, weaving them with the chatter of his fireside companions and with her own feelings and the result is a book that rejoices in the simple beauty of a story. A huntsman and writer like his brother, Leicester describes adventures that he and Ernest experienced around the globe-with tales of nighttime crocodile hunts and slim escapes from stone- throwing baboons. Together, Leicester and his brother-often his savior-make a dynamic duo, and his tales are awesome, admirable, and a bit incredible. The pair escapes vicious packs of cannibal dogs, kills a king cobra, captures wild ostriches in Africa, and slays a Komodo dragon in the Far East. Or do they? As Hilary, Lindsay and their daughters listen to the recording, they just can't decide whether these are true stories or tall tales. Here, the story becomes a personal and touching one as well. Leicester Hemingway chose "the family exit" rather than suffer a double amputation make necessary by his diabetes. Hearing her father's stories helps Hilary finally mourn his loss and gain a new perspective on her family tradition.

Hilary honors her father and celebrates her family legacy with this collection of fantastic hunting stories.
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Format: Hardcover
It's pretty clear that Les embellished or invented many of these stories from the guffaws and proddings of various admirerers, but still, these stories make for entertaining reading. I was less excited about the "coming to terms" aspects of the story as narrated by Hillary and her husband, but that's a minor gripe. The stories sound authentic or at least are in keeping with what Hemingway WOULD have done had he been there. So even if no one could prove Hemingway went to India, the snake/tiger story is still a heck of a tale.
I read it on a plane in under 2 hours and it goes by fast. Not as elegant as Hemingway's actual novels, but good fodder for the enthusiast.
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By A Customer on September 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book was a joy to read. The tales are basically told by Leicester as they were recorded on an old casette tape. The man is pulling your leg so just go with it and enjoy yourself. In the end you will find that the book is not about Ernest at all. It is about a daughter coming to terms with the passing of her beloved father. If you gain nothing more from reading this book than learning that Leicester was a fantastic storyteller then it is time well spent.
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