Kristen's Reviews > Picturing Hemingway's Michigan

Picturing Hemingway's Michigan by Michael R. Federspiel
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Jun 06, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: michigan, history, non-fiction, own, photography-art-etc, biography, favorites
Read from January 04 to June 13, 2011

What a gorgeous book! Hardly a straight up biography, it is something far more fascinating, capturing the feel of a time and place. The Author provides a wonderful snapshot of the Northern Michigan of Hemingway's childhood and this book is just as much about 'Up North' as it is about young Hemingway's summers spent there. At times the first quarter of the book does feel as if the material is stretched a bit too thin when author goes on and on about hotels, ships and trains that Hemingway may have patronized but it's all a valid attempt to show how the those industries created the tourism boom that drew countless families including the Hemingways to northern Michigan. As a Michigander I certainly enjoyed those digression but I can see how some one not as interested in Michigan history might thinks it's overkill.

Hemingway spent most of his boyhood summers on Walloon Lake just outside of Petoskey. His industrious doctor father and art/music loving mother (who ironically discouraged his early writings) build a charming cottage they filled with art when young Hemingway was just an infant, and which still remains in the family to this day. They would later buy a farm across the lake where teenage Hemingway worked beside the tenant farmer, and used as an convenient way to get away from his mother and sisters.

As you would expect the book is filled with tales of young Hemingway's love of hunting and fishing, for instance a 5 day hike from Traverse City to Petoskey with a friend surviving solely on what they could catch along the way, which more than any other experience informed his Nick Adams stories. Yet, this book is as much about the people, locals and summer visitors who would later be used as models in his writing. The towns and neighbors are major characters in this book, as important as Hemingway himself. The story of the time his father decided to drive his Model T to the cottage rather than using the ships and trains they had always traveled by was my favorite. What is now a 5 hour trip took over five days with an average speed of 8 mph. His regular visits ended soon after his first wedding in Petoskey, yet the influence of his time in northern Michigan would remain with him the rest of his life.

The book also includes many Tourism ads, news clipping, personal family letter, entries of his baby book, excepts of The Nick Adams Stories and the Torrents of Spring pair with photos of the places that influenced those writings. And the photos. This is above all a photo book and it is more than worth its $40 price just for the wonderful photo's. Baby Hemingway floating around the lake in a tub. And what Hemingway fan wouldn't adore 1 year old Hemingway herding sheep with a stick.

More than anything this reminded me of my childhood trips Up north.



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The most perfect book one can possibly read before a trip up north!
Will write a proper review when I return.
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Reading Progress

05/18/2011 page 75
33.0% "Off to a bad start on page one. He calls Michigan residents 'Michiganians', not the correct term: Michiganders. Anyone who says 'Michiganian' is not to be trusted and should possibly be run out of the state since they are clearly not one of us!!!"

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Kristen I forgot all about this book, it looks so awesome!


message 2: by Mariel (new)

Mariel Is there a Hemingway Florida companion book?


message 3: by Kristen (last edited May 06, 2011 03:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kristen I keep forgetting all about this book, It's been on my currently reading shelf forever and I haven't even started it.

But no, I don't think so. The author is a from Michigan and the book is as much about Michigan during the time Hemingway was here as it is about the man himself.


message 4: by Eric (last edited Jun 27, 2011 08:22PM) (new)

Eric I'm almost reluctant to move beyond In Our Time because the north woods glimpses are so perfect. "They sat in front of the fire and drank Irish whisky and water. 'It's got a swell, smoky taste,' Nick said, and looked at the fire through the glass."


message 5: by Kristen (last edited Jun 28, 2011 10:27AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kristen I read all his short stories back to back in one collection, so they tend to blend together but I've been meaning meaning to reread some of them. In fact after finishing this book one day before I left to go up north I started to look for my Hemingway short stories, but it's boxed up still from moving a year ago and I gave up after the first box.


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