terça-feira, 5 de agosto de 2008

Resennha do Gerald sobre o Estranha Tribo do John

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The importance of NOT being Ernest

Here's a review that the playwright Gerald Thomas wrote about my memoir, Strange Tribe.

"The importance of NOT being Ernest"


To read John Hemingway's Strange Tribe is very disturbing. But I say that with the best of intentions. Some of the most interesting literature in our History has not been a comfortable object of contemplation. Strange Tribe is a strange trip or, rather, an odyssey; a dysfunctional mixture of family failures and familiar literary triumphs of man versus its own reverse image. John, unlike his grandfather and father, is a “normal” storyteller, a survivor of sorts, capable of telling this fascinating family story in a simple and almost ironic way, after having lived through days and nights of having had to look at himself and his father through a broken mirror after a night of horrors.

"It's an ironic way of explaining the seemingly inexplicable", this book cannot but to have a conceptual impact on the reader and Oscar Wilde's life and work is probably the first thing that comes to mind (all puns included). Ernest Hemingway was the ultimate ideal of masculinity but his son, after many failed attempts of being successful as such (obsessed as he was with the great father and writer), was a failure in every sense of the word. Kafka comes to mind. His famous letter to his father, I mean.

But Strange Tribe is certainly not written to be interpreted as a tragedy or melodrama. There are so many funny passages. Did I say funny? Yes, funny, warm, heartbreaking, loathing, amazing flashes at the human condition and, of course, glimpses of derailment of many lives (many!) that encounter this huge enormous bull of a man called Ernest Hemingway.

But it difficult not to notice the stress John makes when describing his dad Greg and his bout with depression and the fact that he was born at the time of the great Depression. Blaming himself for Ernest's suicide in 1961, Greg ended up having a sex change: another daring move, something almost fictitious, out of a book, a novel of sorts, a short story, a short lived story, short lived and loved and loathed and so misunderstood: Gregory Hemingway died as a woman.

"The importance of being wild"

So much misunderstanding here in this family; so much human nature here that sometimes I found myself immersed in another Irishman's world or Universe: that of Samuel Beckett's and his “First Love”, that incomprehensible hand of the child touching that of the father's without any other meaning intended. Father and son holding hands: plain and simple. But life is not justified by love alone.

"Guernica", Pablo Picasso, 1937

Before reading this book I thought of Ernest Hemingway as a boxer and bullfighting fan. A man who had a love and hate relationship with America and loved Cuba and reported on the Spanish Civil War. After reading Strange Tribe I think of his son Greg and Guernica, the masterpiece by Picasso, with its claustrophobia and a single light bulb still hanging shedding shadows on the massacre of what a human being became after losing an uncivil war with his father. Perhaps I read the book upside down. Perhaps the book was written as an account of a family struggle and I simply took it further and made it into a masterpiece of construction and deconstruction and discomfort as the best literature in our History should be.


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