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 I know, I know.  Three books in the past three weeks.  Not exactly a championship pace.  I could make excuses (grades, dogsitting, etc.), but I won’t.  The truth is, I have just been lazy.  From time to time I have to relax the pace in order to avoid burnout.  I will definitely make up for lost time when the summer rolls around. 

I did recently spend a week dogsitting for my mother and stepfather, a situation which inspired my choice for book twenty-seven.  Ernest Hemingway’s True at First Light is a fictional memoir recounting Hemingway’s African safari of 1953-1954.  My own adventure with the Heart of Darkness (an affectionate nickname for the canine trio that owned my house for a week) made True at First Light the perfect choice.  Hemingway worked on this book for the next several years but gave up due to struggles with his failing memory.  The book remained unpublished until 1999, when Patrick Hemingway (son of Ernest) edited the manuscript by half and released it as True at First Light.

The Heart of Darkness-- Elroy the Bulldog, Cricket the Dachshund, and my dog Duke.

I enjoyed this book very much, but also felt a certain amount of guilt while reading it.  The circumstances of the publication seem wrong.  The fact that Hemingway did not want this book released and doubted his writing powers during its composition make reading it seem like violating the dead.  That said, the pleasure of reading it far outweighs the guilt.  The book presents a Hemingway aware of his advancing age and waning confidence as a writer.  The descriptions of African life are evocative and sincere.  This book proves that Hemingway on the decline is a far better writer than just about anybody.  True at First Light has the signature Hemingway heartache– a beautiful but bittersweet story that reminds the reader of the fleeting nature of beauty and worldly happiness.

The Current Count:

27 Read, 73 To Go

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