Papa Was Wrong: An Obscure Mystery Novelist Challenges Hemingway’s ‘White Bull’ Metaphor

max picOn Hemingway’s metaphor for writing: But Papa’s whole bit about the blank page being akin to a writer facing down a “white bull” is just bull—-. Worse, it’s macho bull—-.  Sure, the “white bull” is a useful metaphor, and it certainly jibes with the Tough Guy/Big Game Hunter/Hard-Drinking persona Hemingway cultivated. And yes, Hemingway did win a Nobel Prize in literature, so who am I to argue with the man?

By Max Everhart

Aside from leaving behind at least two literary masterpieces (The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea), as well as the only perfect short story in existence (“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”), Ernest Hemingway was extremely quotable, and in today’s sound bite-driven culture where attention span’s are measured in nanoseconds, and celebrities become famous for their sex tapes and being witty on twitter, and. . .

Apologies.

Forgot where I was going with that.

Right. Hemingway.  Yeah, the man made for good copy, my favorite among his quotes being this gem: “Always do drunk what you said you’d do sober.” That has heft to it. Speaks to a person’s character. I like that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But Papa’s whole bit about the blank page being akin to a writer facing down a “white bull” is just bull—-. Worse, it’s macho bull—-.  Sure, the “white bull” is a useful metaphor, and it certainly jibes with the Tough Guy/Big Game Hunter/Hard-Drinking persona Hemingway cultivated. And yes, Hemingway did win a Nobel Prize in literature, so who am I to argue with the man?

Well, I’ll tell you who I am: a guy who took 3rd place in the Reflections Writing Contest when he was eight; a guy whose written countless short stories, mostly for now defunct publications; a guy whose novels have sold in excess of 100 copies. That’s who I am.

So, now that we’ve established my impeccable credentials, I can explain, in eloquent, yet pity detail, exactly why Hemingway’s metaphor is bull—-.

It annoys me.

Hemingway took himself (and his work) too seriously, and we all know how that turned out. Too, and pardon me while I trample on the man’s grave, the “white bull” metaphor just adds fuel to the fire of Papa’s legend as a writer/adventurer who valued (overvalued?) “grace under pressure.” (Sidenote: the whole Camelot-JFK myth rubs me the wrong way, too, as that pretty boy was NOT a good president; he was just a guy with a silver spoon in his mouth whose father bought him a Pulitzer Prize and a presidential election).

JFK

Which leads me back to my point (if I had one to begin with): don’t over-complicate things; don’t be pretentious and insecure, man.  When it comes to writing, forget about Hemingway’s white bull nonsense.  Instead, remember Max’s Dog Rule: Sit at your computer, and stay.

Okay, maybe bang your head against the desk if things aren’t flowing the way you’d like.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Papa Was Wrong: An Obscure Mystery Novelist Challenges Hemingway’s ‘White Bull’ Metaphor

  1. Frankly, Hemingway has always annoyed me too! And with the exception of A Movable Feast, The Old Man and the Sea, and Islands in the Stream (which I don’t think he finished), I haven’t liked much he wrote. Give me Fitzgerald any day. But, back to the white bull. Really? I’d say that white bull is more like opportunity knocking. An entire world spread out before you that you have to uncover by filling in just the right words. But then, I like puzzles.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Think I might have been in a bad mood when I wrote this one. Still, I stand by it. Not sure what it has to do with mystery writing, but there you go. Wonder if I’ll be fired from a blog I helped start? That could be my Steve Jobs moment. Kait? Mike? Do I need to submit my resignation?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well . . . I suppose we’re all allowed one faux pas, so you get a pass, Max (said the KING of faux pas).

    “White Bull” . . . wasn’t that a cheap brand of malt liquor I used to drink back in the day? But I digress.

    Ernie wrote some excellent works (mentioned in Obscure Mystery Novelist’s post, plus a few more I would add). He also wrote JUNK! Hemingway’s TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT might just be the worst piece of tripe by a notable author I’ve ever suffered through. His Cuban characters’ dialogue sounds more Italiano than Cubano. I’ll stop there.

    Suffice it to say the movie version, starring the incomparable Bogey and Bacall, is vastly superior to Hemingway’s novel. Their on-screen magic, AND the fact the book bears scant resemblance to the book, speaks volumes about Ernie’s literary bomb. I would wager that if a writer were to copy TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT verbatim, changing only the title and characters’ names, and submit it to an agent or editor, they would be turned down flat. Any takers?

    Hey Max–love your “Dog Rule”–you should copyright it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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