Print the Legend … on July 2, 1961 Ernest Hemingway blew his brains out … or did he? Speculation about Papa’s death has been the obsession of some ever since. Through an ingenious set of scenarios that include a 1965 Hemingway Conference of academics in Ketchum, Idaho (where Hem died) where one professor (Richard Paulson) has come to interview the widow Hemingway (Mary) and has brought his Scottish, very pregnant wife (and a wannabe writer herself—Hannah), a rogue FBI/CIA lunatic (Donovan Creedy—a writer himself) with his own Hemingway obsession and our protagonist, Hector Lassiter (a longtime friend to Hem going back to their Italy war days, a writer and a definite macho man complete with his very own FBI tail), author Craig McDonald delivers the goods once again in this third in his Hector Lassiter series.
Prof. Paulson is out to prove the widow Hemingway is the one who killed Papa. Creedy is out to ruin Papa’s literary reputation and is using Paulson to get it done. Creedy’s FBI ties go way back in Hemingway time and are a part of Director Herbert Hoover’s paranoid attempt to discredit writers he found fault with over his 48 year career—Hemingway being at the top of his hit list.
The novel starts with an incredibly gripping first chapter (Hemingway’s last day) and then bounces back and forth through some of Papa and Lassiter’s past, Hoover (and Creedy’s) ongoing grudge match with Hem and always returning to present day 1965 and the days surrounding the conference (where Lassiter is the keynote speaker). There is enough subterfuge here to label this novel a spy thriller, but it is also a crime novel and something I like to call “documentary-like fiction” (fiction based on fact presented so authentically it might as well be a documentary) … but that would do a disservice to the author because McDonald is much more literary than the average jamoke writing crime novels these days. He has both a literary and journalist background (has published two author interview books considered the standard by which such revealing dialogues are measured—Art in the Blood and Rogue Males) and, as one might’ve figured out by now, McDonald is pretty much a Hemingway expert. His three Lassiter novels are smart, intriguing and loaded with Americana I can’t get enough of.
Print the Legend is the third in the Hector Lassiter Series (behind Edgar nominated Head Games and Toros & Torsos), but the Lassiter story began with a brilliant short story in the prestigious Mississippi Review, The Last Interview. It was immediately after McDonald’s first short story was published that I wrote him something akin to: “What the fuck are you dicking around doing interviews for? You’re a great writer.” As it turns out, McDonald is a superb writer and well on his way to the top of a very competitive writing world.
Most of yous know I refuse to provide spoilers (I want yous to READ), so don’t expect any here. Suffice it to say, for those interested in anything Hemingway, the history behind much of his life, the times, the people around him (including those out to malign him), his death and what came after, the Hector Lassiter series (all three books) are a must read. For those interested in good, smart writing, ditto. For those interested in a wild ride that transverses time and continents, ditto again. And for those looking for something that will not only enlighten, but will provide some genuine background of what government can (and often will) do to those it fears, Print the Legend, as quoted by best selling author Michael Connelly (on the cover), is indeed “an epic masterpiece.”
Hot Water Heaters … Yesterday toward the end of the work day, Knucks received a frantic email from The Wife. Something to the effect: “Tim said there’s no hot water and a flood in the basement. We need to go grocery shopping.” Now, what would one (hot water heater) have to do with the other (need to go grocery shopping)? Translation: You have to stay home tomorrow and wait for the plumber to repair the hot water heater, but we’re short on food supplies so don’t eat everything in the house.
I have this problem when I’m home, amici … it has to do with the proximity of the refrigerator to my writing room; there are no land mines between the two.
Tiger ... oy-vey, vey iz mir ... imagine the rest of this poor SOB’s life? Okay, he’s got more money than God, but soon he’ll have to share it with not just his wife but every woman he’s slept with who can prove it. Tiger, Tiger, Tiger ... what were you thinking? Of course I’m not talking about the tails he’s been chasing but that he thought he’d never get caught. Something tells me he’s been paying all along (for the silence) and that there must have been a mutual agreement that as soon as the secret was out, bada-boom, bada-bing, so was the extortion checkbook.
Sanctuaries ... the Pakistan sanctuaries the Taliban is said to be using brings to mind what had happened in Cambodia during the Vietnam war; how what had started out as Operation Breakfast and eventually ended as Operation Menu, an attempt to cut-off NVA soldiers using hit and run tactics against our troops in South Vietnam along Cambodia’s border quickly became an obsession during which, (according to William Shawcross’ Sideshow, a book I had used for a Political Science paper back in the day), more bomb tonnage was dropped on (like Pakistan) the neutral state of Cambodia than we dropped on Japan in all of WWII. The result from our massive bombing of Cambodia resulted in the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot and the killing fields. We suggest President Obama tread lightly when poking our nose (and bombs) into Pakistan. Dropping bombs on people doesn’t always have the desired effect.
We actually do feel for the guy ... he won’t be able to screw a light bulb from now on without somebody keeping close watch. And one can only imagine how many women out there he’s been with who had the sense to make sure they could prove it (being clever capitalists). I’ll tell you this much, the guy may have it all when it comes to Golf, but between what his wife will put him through (before and after she hires some sharp attorneys) and how he’ll be hounded outside his home, I wouldn’t want to be this guy no matter how much he’s worth.
Oh, Sarah ... she says: "experts" & their latest shenanigans. Thank God "Climategate" truth is being revealed! If the GOP winds up with this broad running for President and the Curmudgeon Party doesn’t make it to the big dance, I’ll have to hold a gun to my head (and not vote socialist or Nader or Martian Party) and vote for the lighter version of Republican (which, as it turns out, is your standard Obama Democrat). We at Knucksline feel pretty sure about one thing going forward: If Sarah Palin is for it, we’re probably dead against it ... including that increase in troops to Afghanistan (where President Bush-Light has suddenly found so many “friendlies” on the other side of the political aisle--must be what he meant by inclusive government).
As it turns out, hot (but dumb as nails) Sarah Palin is just like all those Washington elites after all. The “principled one” tends to flip-flop, too …
That 8% ... last post DOC made a great point regarding the makeup of President Obama’s cabinet: “I saw an interesting fact the other day. In most president's cabinets there are between 30-50% appointees from the private sector. The democrats tend to have the lower numbers and the republicans tend to have the higher numbers. Can you guess how many cabinet members the Bamster has appointed from the private sector ... 8%. He has surrounded himself with academics and community organizers. No wonder nothing ever gets done! These are not people who respond very well to, "And have that up and running by Friday, or else." They don't "do" things. They discuss things. If they are real over-achievers they might write a paper. If the kids can't read by June, they give them diplomas anyway and plan to re-address the issue in September with a new batch.”
DOC and I first met at a flourishing marketing research firm that had been sold to an international conglomerate a few years earlier. The new guys running the ship were the same sort as the 92% Obama has surrounded himself with (mostly academics with PhD’s) ... and while DOC went on long (cough, cough) lunch breaks and I did the weekly count (at my desk) for the fantasy connected bookmaking office I was with at the time, the academics proceeded to run the company into the ground. True story. Between the CEO and the geniuses he personally hired, friends of friends from the academic world, it wasn’t long before the company was “downsized” into near oblivion. The academics were all bright enough people, but having never “worked” for a living many of them were stuck in theory and losing out to others who knew the empirical ropes (the ones who had worked themselves up through the ranks). That’s not to say that academic types can’t get it done, but it is a scary thought when everybody who jumps into the van is a theorist with six sets of academic degrees and not a one of them knows how to drive.
Next Knucksline review: John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.
And the DOC says ...
Chaz, it's time for you to move on.
Sarah does not want you to be her love monkey or whatever it was that you were proposing and this retribution of yours is unseemly. I have heard that Nancy Pelosi is available, but she is used to screwing 300 million people at a time. I don't know if she is into that one-on-one stuff.
I loved that ABC clip with the giant "FALSE" rubber stamp coming down on Palin's face. Do you have any other clips like that where they use that "LIAR" stamp on anybody else? Perhaps on an actual elected official. I imagine not.
You'll be pleased to hear that I have started incorporating Obama's war policy into my private life. This morning at 10:00 I dropped my truck off at the repair shop and I gave the mechanic an hour and a half to fix it. At 11:30 I went back to the garage and the mechanic gave me my bill, my car keys and a big freaking box of parts. Maybe tomorrow you can stop by the house and we can figure out where to put them.
Although, I have a pretty good idea where I would like to put them.
Get help, Chaz.