Saturday, May 8, 2021

the last book I ever read (Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion, excerpt six)

from Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion:

It might seem safe to assume that a writer who commuts suicide has been less than entirely engaged by the work he leaves unfinished, yet there appears to have been not much question about what would happen to the unfinished Hemingway manuscripts. These included not only “the Paris stuff” (as he called it), or A Moveable Feast (as Scribner’s called it), which Hemingway had in fact shown to Scribner’s in 1959 and then withdrawn for revision, but also the novels later published under the titles Islands in the Stream and The Garden of Eden, several Nick Adams stories, what Mrs. Hemingway called the “original treatment” of the bullfighting pieces published by Life before Hemingway’s death (this became The Dangerous Summer), and what she described as “his semi-fictional account of our African safari,” three selections from which she had published in Sports Illustrated in 1971 and 1972.

What followed was the systematic creation of a marketable product, a discrete body of work different in kind from, and in fact tending to obscure, the body of work published by Hemingway in his lifetime. So successful was the process of branding this product that in October, according to the House & Home section of The New York Times, Thomasville Furniture Industries introduced an “Ernest Hemingway Collection” at the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, North Carolina, offering “96 pieces of living, dining and bedroom furniture and accessories” in four themes, “Kenya,” “Key West,” “Havana,” and “Ketchum.” “We don’t have many heroes today,” Marla A. Metzner, the president of Fashion Licensing of America, told the Times. “We’re going back to the great icons of the century, as heroic brands.” Ms. Metzner, according to the Times, not only “created the Ernest Hemingway brand with Hemingway’s three sons, Jack, Gregory and Patrick,” but “also represents F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grandchildren, who have asked for a Fitzgerald brand.”

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