Though one particular grad school professor of mine would no doubt be shocked to hear that. He *cough* may have been left with the impression that Hemingway was my favorite writer in the whole world.
I know! Bad Linda. Bad, bad Linda!
But, really, I had no choice. It was patently obvious from day one of this professor’s class that he thought Ernest Hemingway was the most brilliant writer of the 20th century, and that anyone who didn’t feel similarly was an idiot.
Well, I’d read enough of Hemingway’s books by then to form my own opinion of them, which was a trifle lukewarm compared to my professor’s. But I was no idiot.
A hypocrite, perhaps, but not an idiot.
So of course I extolled Papa H’s genius whenever his name arose in class (which, trust me, was waaaay too often), speaking reverently of the deceptively simple prose that was merely the tip of an iceberg of deep meaning and roiling emotion, seven-eighths of which was hidden beneath the surface of the actual words. (Hey, grad students are BS masters, especially in the *cough-cough* fertile field of literature, and I’d learned to fling it with the best of them.)
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Linda, how could you? Where was your courage? Your honor? Your literary integrity?
I’ll tell you where it was–buried right under my acute sense of self-preservation. I was there on scholarship–tuition, books, and enough of a stipend to cover rent and, if I was careful, food. I needed that A! The theater god and I had just purchased our first house, and no way was I going to risk tossing away a full ride for the fleeting satisfaction of telling my professor my true opinion of his idol.
Oh, he probably wouldn’t have flunked me. But I’d heard rumors about some of his more *ahem* honest students barely squeaking by with C-minuses. A C-minus was not going to keep me in Cheetos and Dr. Pepper. Plus, he was head of the department, and if disliking Hemingway would color his opinion of my literary worthiness, why put myself through the grief?
Besides, I was an actress as well as a grad student. I saw it as an opportunity to hone my craft. Multitasking is good, right?
BTW, I’ve since softened a bit on Hemingway. I do recognize the genius in his sparse prose. For example, the wrenching simplicity of the final line of The Sun Also Rises (“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”) brings a tear to my eye. But honestly? Ol’ Ernie will never be the first name I go for on the bookshelf. I’m just too fond of adverbs.
How about you? Hemingway fan or not?
Have you ever lied about liking a book for personal gain?
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