While biking riding through stately southern mansions with very tall trees and exotic vines, on a tour through Key West recently, we breezed past the Hemingway House. Despite the sultry 108˚F, we absorbed the southern most point of the continental USA. After a scoop of key lime ice cream, I could have gone back to the ship for a shower, air conditioning, or the pool. But I walked back to the Hemingway House.
Hemingway was before my time, yet left such a permanent impression on our culture, I want to know more about him. It’s a bit embarrassing, being the last one to know why Hemingway is so important, but I am active, a maker and have the rest of my life to read! Thankfully, the guide was a fellow from LA, Chris Parsons, who was historically and intimately knowledgeable about this powerful American writer.
Of all the exotic chandeliers and tiles, passionate lovers and polydactyl cats, my favorite part was the typewriters. Of course, he had more than one. Or was it the writing room? Or the library? You know where this is going, right? The imagination and intellect through the machine to the public – the genius, creative process that affects the masses is a thrill.
The Lost Generation were there by surprise. While I enjoyed Midnight in Paris, I had not understood all the referenced characters until this educational day. Hemingway’s key peer influences were featured on a wall. That’s worth watching again.
His glamour, adventure, bravado was real and necessary for the measurable writing he did at this place. Formerly the hayloft above the horse stable in the backyard, then guest house, his writing room was not exactly a man cave. You can see in the photo here, it was breezy, quiet, sufficient, mostly just a room to work. Typewriter, paper, table, chair and small relief room. No refrigerator, games, tv or radio. It was here, he wrote the majority of his Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning novels. To stand in this room steeped in his creative production hours, was connecting.
Having a library in your home is impressive, indeed. How many people can fill their own library with work they authored? The library there is filled with books written by Ernest Hemingway upstairs. This is what makes the Hemingway House a worthy walk, even in the off season of Key West. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some reading to do!