cover image Dear Papa: The Letters of Patrick and Ernest Hemingway

Dear Papa: The Letters of Patrick and Ernest Hemingway

Edited by Brendan Hemingway and Stephen Adams. Scribner, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-9821-9686-8

Ernest Hemingway emerges as a “devoted family man and engaged father” in this intimate collection of three decades’ worth of letters between Hemingway and his son Patrick. There’s Hemingway’s first letter to his son (then four years old) in which he describes a Wyoming hunting trip, a note with some fatherly advice on football (“Always remember to swing your arms wide when you tackle”), and dispatches from Patrick on studying, boredom, and homesickness while he was at boarding school (“​​I sure wish I could write you more, but there just isn’t anything to say”). Hemingway’s support of Patrick’s changing career goals is touching, and while the letters easily capture the pair’s close bond, the lack of annotation presents its share of problems; readers will have to parse their way through a jumble of family sobriquets (Patrick is referred to as “Mouse”), pets’ names, and sporting banter (“An old guy named Copin who hadn’t shot since 1937 won the trap championship with 100 straight almost precipitating a wave of suicides in the class shooters 2nd 100 straight in 30 years”). Hardcore Hemingway fans will appreciate this view of the writer as a father. (June)