Young Writer’s Reading List

YOne of my favorite stories related to EMH is how a young man, Arnold Samuelson, showed up on the writer’s doorstep in Key West after hitchhiking across the country. Samuelson was a writer (but really just a 22-year-old hobo) and wanted to talk to EMH and get his advice. So Samuelson showed up at the house on Whitehead one day and EMH actually answered the door.

From Samuelson’s memoirs:

When I knocked on the front door of Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West, he came out and stood squarely in front of me, squinty with annoyance, waiting for me to speak. I had nothing to say. I couldn’t recall a word of my prepared speech. He was a big man, tall, narrow-hipped, wide-shouldered, and he stood with his feet spread apart, his arms hanging at his sides. He was crouched forward slightly with his weight on his toes, in the instinctive poise of a fighter ready to hit.

After EMH discerned the young man was harmless, he befriended him and later even gave him a job as a mate on the Pilar. When Samuelson returned the second day according to EMH’s instructions, they talked.

His workshop was over the garage in back of the house. I followed him up an outside stairway into his workshop, a square room with a tile floor and shuttered windows on three sides and long shelves of books below the windows to the floor. In one corner was a big antique flat-topped desk and an antique chair with a high back. E.H. took the chair in the corner and we sat facing each other across the desk. He found a pen and began writing on a piece of paper and during the silence I was very ill at ease. I realized I was taking up his time, and I wished I could entertain him with my hobo experiences but thought they would be too dull and kept my mouth shut. I was there to take everything he would give and had nothing to return about writing.

EMH wrote out a list of books to read:

Hemingway-Reading-List-e1369330871727Samuelson worked for and hung out with EMH in Key West and Cuba for a year. Samuelson died in 1981 after suffering from bipolar disorder for many years (just like EMH). His children found his memoirs and published them as With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba.

  10 comments for “Young Writer’s Reading List

  1. hilarymb
    April 29, 2016 at 3:06 AM

    Hi Denise – what an interesting find … and a fascinating post to read – thank you …

    I’ll pass it on to my god-daughter who will be visiting Cuba in a few weeks … cheers Hilary

    • April 29, 2016 at 7:10 AM

      Hilary, that picture on the cover of the book is one of my favorites. But, unfortunately, they chose to cut off EMH’s 2nd wife at the time, Pauline Pfieffer. And they were at a cafe in Cuba when that was taken. Pauline accompanied EMH on many travels and was a good sport.

  2. April 29, 2016 at 5:23 AM

    I LOVE this story!!! Can you imagine? Makes me want to go knock on Donna Tartt’s door……😉

    • April 29, 2016 at 7:12 AM

      LOL!! I am glad, Martha! It is an inspiring story. The book is out of print but I read a copy from the SMU Library. I enjoyed it immensely.

  3. April 29, 2016 at 11:06 AM

    What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing.
    Sudha from
    Everyday Muse

  4. April 29, 2016 at 12:24 PM

    Thanks, Sudhanair! Happy A to Z–will be following you!

  5. April 29, 2016 at 1:16 PM

    How very cool, to just drop in on one’s favorite writer. Well, Hemingway was just cool like that, welcoming the young man.

  6. April 29, 2016 at 2:04 PM

    Yes, he was, Silvia. Was not the guy some people generalize about . . .

  7. May 9, 2016 at 8:28 PM

    I was wondering why all those people on my front porch kept knocking………Please, just ring the bell!

    • May 9, 2016 at 8:46 PM

      Maybe Ernie got a chuckle from that, ZD!

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