Old Man and His Sea

Ernest Hemingway went through four wives in three decades. But there’s one lady who stayed with him for almost 30 years — Pilar, his 38-foot motorized fishing vessel. The avid fisherman found the boat, hewn from Canadian fir and Honduran mahogany, in Cuba. As cataloged in the new book Hemingway’s Boat, Papa said it looked beached on concrete blocks “like some old and gasping browned-out whale.” Among seemingly endless Hemingway biographies, Paul Hendrickson, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and a former Washington Post reporter, uses Pilar as a refreshing way to anchor the writer’s sad story. Hemingway’s Boat follows the bearded scribe from Key West to Cuba and from New York to Africa while he jousts personal demons, alcoholism, fame, and dissolving marriages. His one constant was Pilar; his letters are peppered with “Can’t wait to get on the boat.” Through previously unpublished material, Hendrickson paints a more benevolent and generous Hemingway, particularly the relationship with his son Gigi — a doctor who lived as a cross-dresser and who died alone in a Miami women’s jail in 2001 after an arrest for indecent exposure. Hosted by Books & Books, Hendrickson will discuss Papa and Pilar this Thursday at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art.
Thu., Oct. 20, 6 p.m., 2011


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