Monday, January 10, 2011

Hem and Gert Talk Mysteries

Last week, while watching a glorious PBS-TV documentary called Paris, the Luminous Years: Toward a Making of the Modern, directed by Perry Miller Adato, I realized that I hadn’t paid a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s 1964 classic, A Moveable Feast, for too long a time. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know,” Hem says in that book, and those were words I was trying to carve into my remaining brain cells as I clacked away at my serial novel, Forget About It (the 19th installment of which has just been posted, with the full archive of chapters available here).

Despite a nasty joke by Hemingway about “a rose is a rose is an onion,” repeated during the program, I knew that he and author Gertrude Stein had once been great friends, spending many hours in her apartment on the Rue de Fleurus near the Musée du Luxembourg, talking about writers and writing. What I’d forgotten is how Stein seems to have awakened a new interest in crime fiction in Hemingway--who’d written many newspaper stories about crime during his post-World War I stint as a reporter with the Toronto Star Weekly.

Two of the people whose work Stein suggested Hem read caught his attention: Georges Simenon and Marie Belloc Lowndes, the elder sister of Hilaire Belloc, an Anglo-French writer and historian. Simenon was, of course, one of the most prolific novelists of the 20th century, as well as being an orator, satirist, and political activist. Belloc Lowndes penned dozens of very popular, surprisingly modern mysteries, starting with The Lodger in 1913 (filmed five times, once in a silent version by Alfred Hitchcock) and including Hemingway’s favorite, 1914’s chilling The End of Her Honeymoon (available for free to Kindle users).

So, another way to spend idle hours. Just what we all needed, right?

WATCH MORE: At least for the time being, you can see Paris, the Luminous Years in its entirety here.

1 comment:

Michael Carlson said...

Youre right about Moveable Feast, maybe the best thing he wrote apart from his short stories...though I havent seen the 'revised' version...

But I'm curious abt Gertrude Stein recommending Simenon to Hem. He and Stein fell out in the mid-20s, and Simenon didnt publish under his own name until the early 30s, though he was prolific under psudonyms in the French pulp fiction world....but was it in later correspondence, or when hem returned to France or some other circumstances?