The Hemingway Hoax by Joe Haldeman

This was a delightful short read. The Hemingway Hoax was loaned to me by my friend Amy, librarian (newly, my coworker librarian! yay!), science fiction enthusiast, and science fiction author to boot. (I wrote briefly about one of her short stories here.) After my recent raving about Hemingway’s Boat (my review to come at Shelf Awareness), she lent me her signed, personalized copy, ooooh. It’s an easy read at 150ish pages; I ran right through it at one sitting.

David Baird is a college professor and Hemingway scholar. He and his (much younger, former student) wife are summering in Key West, where they meet a con man with a scheme to “find” the manuscripts of Hemingway’s early short stories, and a partial novel, that H’s first wife Hadley lost on a train in their Paris days. Baird, with his expertise, should be able to successfully forge them. In so doing, however, he gets wrapped up… transported through times… to parallel universes… meets the Hemingways of various eras… or does he? I won’t ruin the whole surprise, but there is time travel and questions about What Is Real. Some bad things happen. Or do they?

I enjoyed the Hoax. It had suspense, interesting characters, intrigue. It had Hemingway! And the Hemingway parts were well done; Haldeman knows his Papa well enough to pull this off without offending the armchair Hemingway scholar. (I didn’t pick it apart or check references or anything but it held together.) And that would have been a deal-breaker for me, of course. Not for the first time, I say: this is sci fi? I thought I didn’t like sci fi! Well done, Amy. You may keep lending me books. Thank you!

7 Responses

  1. If you had to give it a rating (A, B, C, etc or numerica out of 10) what would it be? Have you read Haldeman’s most famous (and by far his best) novel The Forever War? It’s quite dark but worth the read… Written in reaction to Heinlein’s controversial Starship Troopers.

  2. Oh it’s a solid 6 or so out of 10. Maybe edging towards 7. I’m not a reader of sci fi – I think I could count them on two hands – and this is the only Haldeman in my world so far. I was interested in the Hemingway connection rather than the sci fi, although I appreciated the whole thing. The titles you mention are definitely outside my normal range of radar. I’m not against sci fi, just haven’t been moved to make a regular place for it in my reading.

  3. Well, I suggest some of the best (and yes, a few of them ARE literary — hehe – I get badgered all the time by my girlfriend – an English PhD student – about the lowly quality of sci-fi)…

    1. The Left Hand of Darkness — Ursula Le Guin
    2. And Chaos Died — Joanna Rus
    3. The Dispossessed — Ursula Le Guin
    4. Stand on Zanzibar — John Brunner — (if you’re feeling adventurous considering it’s lengthy and multi-layered — his work is modeled on Dos Passos’ America Trilogy)
    5. Solaris — Stanislaw Lem
    6. His Master’s Voice — Stanislaw Lem — (more of a philosophical essay)

  4. Hmm, this one piques my interest. I’ve been on a Hemingway kick lately, having read A Moveable Feast and now thinking of diving into some rereads.

  5. […] I’ve read several biographies, works of literary criticism, and other spinoffs (see The Hemingway Hoax and The Paris Wife); I’m a little obsessive. But Hemingway’s Boat holds a very special […]

  6. […] first she gave me a (rare!) copy of Thank Heaven Fasting (the non-sci-fi outlier); then lent me The Hemingway Hoax; then recommended Soulless and now Kushiel’s […]

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