cover image Almost Hemingway: The Adventures of Negley Farson, Foreign Correspondent

Almost Hemingway: The Adventures of Negley Farson, Foreign Correspondent

Rex Bowman and Carlos Santos. Univ. of Virginia, $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8139-4667-2

Adventurer and foreign correspondent Negley Farson (1890–1960) remains something of a mystery in the bustling debut biography from former Richmond Times-Dispatch reporters Bowman and Santos. Born “among the tall pines in Plainfield, New Jersey,” Farson out-traveled, out-fished, and out-drank Hemingway, the authors write, though his fiction has largely been forgotten. As a reporter, he was on the scene during many of the 20th century’s turning points: he saw Lenin speak to vast crowds in Russia, was the only American correspondent to cover the Leipzig War Crimes Trials, and was in London during the Blitz. Yet his alcoholism destroyed his career, and he may have lacked the interiority needed for his work to live on: “There was no impulse to derive meaning or lessons from his adventures; the adventure was both the path and the destination, and it was enough.” Bowman and Santos acknowledge that aspects of Farson’s life remain murky­—“He managed to hide the very deepest parts of himself.... What drove him, over and over, to such alcoholic depths?”—which unfortunately will leave readers wishing for answers as to what made him tick. But fans of the Lost Generation will be entertained by this rip-roaring account of a larger-than-life character mostly lost to history. (Aug.)