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Reviewed by:
  • Hunting for Hemingway
  • Ron McFarland
Hunting for Hemingway. By Diane Gilbert Madsen . Woodbury, MN: Midnight Ink, 2010. 277 pp. $14.95. Paper.

A possible sub-set of the burgeoning sub-genre of Ernest Hemingway appropriations might be novels pertaining to the lost or stolen manuscripts of 1922. Little would Hadley have suspected on that fateful day of 3 December 1922 as she boarded the train from Paris to Lausanne, hoping to surprise her young husband by bringing him all of the manuscripts and carbons of his writing she could lay her hands on, that she would provide fuel for a future fictional conflagration. Vincent Cosgrove suggests in his 1983 pulp fiction, The Hemingway Papers, that the Nazis, including Goering himself, were involved. MacDonald Harris's 1990 novel, Hemingway's Suitcase, and Joe Haldeman's award-winning science fiction, also 1990, The Hemingway Hoax, both involve forgeries. In his 1994 novel, Papas Koffer, translated as Papa's Suitcase, Gerhardt Köpf introduces us to a Hem-obsessed bookseller who traipses through all the familiar haunts, from Pamplona and Paris to Kenya and Ketchum, in search of the elusive luggage.

So enter now, stage right, Chicago-based author Diane Gilbert Madsen's insurance investigator and ipso facto sleuth DD McGil, age 39, Ph.D. dropout in English (17th-century British lit), single but sexually active (if not hyperactive), blue-eyed blonde of proud Scottish ancestry and personality. The fast-moving mystery-adventure (not quite a "thriller") is told from her in-your-face, first-person viewpoint: "In the history of the world, I knew I wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last to have things turn around and bite me in the ass" (114). We learn right away that DD's love, Scotty Stuart, has been taken into witness protection, so she is vulnerable to the blandishments of a former lover, going back to grad school days, David Barnes, "my old college flame" (8), a Hemingway scholar who claims to have discovered the lost manuscripts. I suspect Madsen has cobbled together Jake Barnes's surname from The Sun Also Rises and David Bourne's given name from The Garden of Eden to arrive at this moniker. "I wondered if this was a con" (16), DD asks herself, and if she had come across the pertinent fictional appropriations, she would likely have had little doubt about the matter. Barnes intends to sell the material at auction and let the buyer beware so far as publication rights and those connected with Hemingway's estate are concerned. In the aftermath of her tryst with Barnes, DD catches a TV news announcement about the find, the reporter picking up on the story that "Hadley had intentionally packed both the originals and the carbons, and, jealous of Hemingway's success, she'd lost everything on purpose" [End Page 127] (26). This caused a "deep rift in their marriage" and led to their eventual divorce. That old canard, one is tempted to say.

DD, plagued by an intense heat-wave and the IRS throughout the novel, is engaged by an insurance company to prove the documents are forgeries, but Barnes has been careful to release only a few pages, and both stylistic analysis of the text and close examination of the paper and of the Corona used to type the pages have suggested their authenticity. With the assistance of a writer friend Madsen even reproduces four pages from the putative manuscript, thus following a sort of tradition that several Hemingway appropriators have found impossible to resist: imitation of the inimitable Hemingway writing style. No sooner are we apprised of the details than we learn that David Barnes has been murdered. DD hears the shot over the telephone, but her new employers, including a former paramour named Matt, fail to accompany her to David's apartment, where she is conked on the head. When the police arrive, she becomes their prime suspect and the game is underway.

A couple of additional homicides follow and DD connects romantically with one of her new employers, Mitch Sinclair, who drives a green Jag: "I shivered with a whole body thrill and succumbed to the moment" (226...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-4815
Print ISSN
0276-3362
Pages
pp. 127-128
Launched on MUSE
2011-06-19
Open Access
No
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