Saturday, June 2, 2012
Immortality or Worm Food?
Love him or hate him, Ernest Hemingway is hot these days. More than fifty years after his death by self-inflicted gunshot wound, the ever prodigal Papa is once more showing up in films and new books. Most notably in Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris and presently in HBO's Hemingway and Gellhorn.
It all makes me wonder: what makes one writer immortal and another forgotten almost as soon as his or her body becomes food for the worms?
Hemingway was a romantic individual. Handsome, big, outspoken, he was an adventurer, traveler, and a fan of the ladies. He also had a real cool name. One wonders if the author would have become a phenom had his name been Irwin Lipschtiz. But no matter what's in a name, his work was groundbreaking, especially the early stories that came together collectively in the 1924 volume, In Our Time.
I think it's possible that good writing might not be enough to make one immortal. Like Norman Mailer (who followed the Hemingway macho, bad boy line pretty closely), or even Elizabeth Gilbert (who has become a dynamic and charismatic speaker aside from a mega-bestseller), it's important that a writer also develop a cult of personality in order to achieve the kind of fame that will last and last.
Are seeking immortality in your writing? Or as a writer, are you seeking the immortal?