Deal Me In, Week 23 ~ “Papa at Ketchum”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Papa at Ketchum” by Joyce Carol Oates

Card picked: King of Hearts
From: Wild Nights!: Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway

Thoughts: I have a confession to make: I haven’t read any Hemingway. There’s a big early 20th century hole in my literary education and Hemingway has fallen through it. I also have a preconceived notion of Hemingway, that he is the ideal of machismo. This doesn’t really endear him to me despite the literary merits of For Whom the Bell Tolls or Farewell to Arms.

Joyce Carol Oates’ “Papa at Ketchum,” set during Hemingway’s final days in Ketchum, Idaho, doesn’t do anything to change my opinion. She paints Hemingway in strokes of self-centeredness, misogyny, and a hunter’s blood-lust. It’s age that has taken him down a notch, although he still believes he seduced one (or maybe two) of the nurses as the Mayo Clinic where he’d recently undergone treatment. In general, this isn’t a pleasant story. It’s long. It rambles. It’s a curious story on which to end this anthology. (I’ve now read the first and last of this collection. I have the middle three to go.)


6 thoughts on “Deal Me In, Week 23 ~ “Papa at Ketchum”

  1. I’m not a big fan of Hemingway. Bu I have two recommendations if you want to read him. The Sun Also Rises is his first success and a good story. Just keep in mind all the characters are based on real people he knew while living in Paris. No big surprise the main character is modeled after himself. And read his memoir about his time living in Paris read A Moveable Feast. He writes nasty things about all his friends there but one, but it is a beautiful love letter to Paris and the ex-pat community there in 1920’s.

  2. All your preconceived ideas about Hemingway are probably true. He definitely had issues. I still like his writing, though, and this JCO collection still sounds great!

  3. I don’t think I’d read any Hemingway (except The Snows of Kilimanjaro, I just remembered) prior to my blogging days, but I’ve read enough of him now to appreciate his merits. A colleague in one of my book clubs is his biggest fan and has helped illuminate for me some reasons to appreciate him. I’ve had For Whom The Bell Tolls in my queue for a long time but haven’t gotten to it yet. I had mixed feelings about The Sun Also Rises, but there were many parts in the book that are “indisputably” great. 🙂

  4. I forgot I wanted to mention Bradbury’s short story “The Kilimanjaro Device” which is kind of Hemingway Alternate History-ish. Probably best to read it only after a little Hemingway’s under your belt though. 🙂

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