The Only Thing That Counts: The Ernest Hemingway/Maxwell Perkins Correspondence, 1925-1947

Ernest Hemingway, Author, Matthew J. Bruccoli, Editor, Robert W. Trogdon, Editor Scribner Book Company $34.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-81562-6
""[P]lease remember that when I am loud mouthed, bitter, son of a bitching and mistrustful,"" Hemingway explained to Perkins midway through their author-editor relationship, ""I am really very reasonable and have great confidence and absolute trust in you."" Many of Hemingway's letters to Perkins have been published before. Yet this selection of 130 of his letters--often with omissions--and 108 by Perkins offers insights into Hemingway that turn the collection into a sort of impulsive autobiography. He confesses, poses, harangues, argues, rages, gossips and confronts the hard choices of revision of his texts. Patiently, cautiously, Perkins cultivated his precious commodity as if he were a surrogate son. Hemingway was adamant about his craft. Writing had to be ""solid and true and have all the dope and be interesting."" Rhetorical flourishes were for ""genteel"" authors. Most writers, he tells Perkins, ""if they don't fake, would be starved to death by Wednesday next."" Perkins sees him through three expensive divorces and must finally offer this tentative defense of his profession: ""Perhaps we are sometimes fools, but we are not skunks."" Bruccoli has edited several works by another Perkins protege, F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book includes reproductions of manuscripts, printed pages from novels and dust jackets. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
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