Are you ready for ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’?


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When it comes to HBO’s upcoming ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn,’ I’m an easy sell. First, it’s about Ernest Hemingway, one of the biggest literary personalities of the 20th century, so I’m intrigued. Second, it’s set partly during the Spanish Civil War, about which I don’t know nearly enough, so I’m curious. Third, it stars Clive Owen, and I vowed to see everything he appeared in since way back when he starred in ‘Croupier.’ Fourth, the screenplay was co-written by author Jerry Stahl, who is awesome. Fifth, it’s directed by Philip Kaufman, who has a pretty fantastic record when it comes to making literary films (‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being,’ ‘Henry & June’). So yes, I’m excited.

But am I ready? I am not. Because I am sorely clueless when it comes to Martha Gellhorn.

OK, I know this: Gellhorn was a war correspondent, and she was a match for Hemingway. I know they got married. I know they got divorced. And sure, it’s obvious that she’s being played by Nicole Kidman, who is no small potatoes.


Gellhorn wrote about more than war -- wars came and went during her 89 years. When she died in 1998, Bill Buford remembered her in our pages: ‘Bossy, straight-talking, cigarette-smoking. The boozy reporter of wars and of the plight of the down-and-out. Also a writer of short stories, novellas and novels. And a travel writer. She was married to Ernest Hemingway, and she hated the fact that, whenever her work was written about in the press, his name was invariably mentioned as well, just as I’m mentioning it.’

Other than that marriage to Hemingway -- which ended in 1945 -- she published about 20 books and other works, which in addition to reportage included short fiction, novels, a play, and novellas.

And I haven’t read a single one.

Before I watch a movie about her, I want to read the words she wrote. She was a writer first. I have until May 28, which is when the movie ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’ premieres on HBO. The trailer is after the jump.

See you in the library in the ‘G’ section.


Bill Buford on Martha Gellhorn

Book review: ‘Selected Letters of Martha Gellhorn’


Jerry Stahl on writing, Mengele and muttering at 3 a.m.

-- Carolyn Kellogg