At least a billion words have been written by or about Ernest Hemingway, there are books about pretty much everywhere he ever lived or visited.  While it would seem that there is no more to be written about the man or his work, new books continue to be written; among them is The Best Friend I Ever Had: Revelations about Ernest Hemingway from those who knew him.

by David Nuffer.  Mr. Nuffer has a fascination with Mr. Hemingway; of the billion words he owns about 24 million of them and he has visited most, if not all of Mr. Hemingway’s former homes.  In his book, Mr. Nuffer documents discussions, interviews, meetings, and letters from and with ten people who knew Mr. Hemingway at one point or another during his life.  They include family and friends, including his last wife, Mary Hemingway, and one of his sons, Patrick Hemingway.  The book is divided into eight chapters, each one devoted to one of the ten people, with two being married couples who share a chapter.  Most of the people had a seemingly limited amount of contact with Mr. Hemingway and could only shed light on the small part of his life they were involved in.

I have read a few of Mr. Hemingway’s novels and short stories but I know very little about him.  I know the basic things that I assume everyone knows about him.  He committed suicide in Idaho, and he lived in Cuba and Key West (I’ve been to the Key West house), he hunted big game in Africa, and he had some involvement in the Spanish Civil War; other that that I don’t know much about him.   While that does not present a problem in my day to day life, it did when reading this book.  Most of what’s in it could probably best be defined as minutiae, of possible interest to those with great interest in Mr. Hemingway’s life but not to the common reading.

The Best Friend I Ever Had was really the story of Mr. Nuffer’s fascination with Mr. Hemingway rather then a story about the man himself.  Mr. Nuffer has an obvious passion for the subject, but to quote Mr. Hemingway, “[I] did not have enough background knowledge to appreciate the book.”

I received this book as an ARC and would like to thank Mr. Nuffer for it.