Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hemingway's Exciting Days as a K.C. Cub Reporter Recounted in Book

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hemingway's Exciting Days as a K.C. Cub Reporter Recounted in Book

Article excerpt

On Oct 15, 1917, three months after his 18th birthday, Ernest Hemingway boarded a train in Chicago, bound for Kansas City. There, a job awaited him as a $15-a-week cub reporter at one of the best-written newspapers in America, the Kansas City Star. Hemingway's father drove him to the station, and the parting of father and son, Steve Paul believes, helped provide the memories that came to fruition years later in an emotional scene of parting in one of Hemingway's best novels.

In "Hemingway at Eighteen," Paul's engaging and solidly researched biographical portrait of the author as a young man, Paul cites a passage from "For Whom the Bell Tolls," published in 1940, as harking back to real events of 1917. The protagonist, Robert Jordan, says goodbye at a train station while his father breaks down in tears and utters a prayer for his son's safety.

"Robert Jordan had been so embarrassed by all of it," Hemingway wrote, "the damp religious sound of the prayer and by his father kissing him goodbye that he suddenly felt so much older than his father and so sorry for him that he could hardly bear it."

Of course, Paul cautions, "one must always read Hemingway's fiction as something other than biographical facts wrapped in invented names and situations." But clearly Hemingway's fiction is rooted in his personal history, and Paul has done a commendable job of digging out the personal history of Hemingway's 18th year.

Steve Paul, like Hemingway, began working at the Kansas City Star while he was a young man, but, unlike Hemingway, Paul stayed at the paper for a full career, and his book is, in part, a love song to the Star, at least as it used to be. He studied every edition of the paper for the 6 months Hemingway was there and read all the relevant biographical material, published and unpublished, including the letters of Hemingway and family. He speculates on what Hemingway would have taken from reading the paper for example, in the fall of 1917, the Star ran regular spine-bracing essays from Teddy Roosevelt, who embodied the bravery and sense of honor that would mark the Hemingway hero.

Showing what Hemingway contributed to the Star in 1917 was harder. …

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