Novels have begun to bore me because real life seems so much more interesting. I am overly enamored of the 1920's, so I was glad to read Lesley M.M.Blume's Everybody Behaves Badly. Fittingly, I was reading it on Ernest Hemingway's birthday. The book is a look at the real life antics that became the basis for Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Many of the main character's are featured in "real life" in the above photo that is used on the cover of the book.
From left to right there is Ernest Hemingway (Jake Barnes), Harold Loeb (Robert Cohn), Lady Duff Twysden (Lady Brett Ashley), Hadley Hemingway, Donald Ogden Stewart (Bill Gordon), and Patrick Guthrie (Mike Campbell).The book reveals everything one knows about "Papa" in spades. Ernest Hemingway was a dick. He was a real dick to women, but frankly, he wasn't much better toward the men in his life. The people whose lives were used to create the cast of The Sun Also Rises began to refer to their lives as "B. S" before Sun and "A. S" after Sun but all felt as though they were collateral damage in Hemingway's attempt to write a bestseller. He got what he wanted.
A great lover of the bullfight and the man who single-handedly made the running of the bulls in Pamplona a tourist mecca, Hemingway was always dragging his friends to bullfights. He loved encouraging them to jump into the ring with the bulls. This stunt backfired on one of his visits when Harold Loeb was nearly gored, but instead, grabbed the horns of the bull and road around the ring on the bulls head. It made Loeb a star in Spain and photos of the event made it all the way back to New York. Hemingway, in an attempt to outdo Loeb, quite literally, "grabbed a bull by the horns" and wrestled it to the ground (as seen in the above photo) but his bravado was still overshadowed by Loeb.
As one might suspect, Hemingway never like to be outdone. I loved the insights into the publishing angles, the fights between publishing houses, and the work of Max Perkins.
While Everybody Behaves Badly doesn't cover any new ground, it is a fantastic distillation of the writing and publishing of one of America's great books. Not to mention a fine snapshot of the 1920's.