As a teenager, I spied a photograph of Ernest Hemingway hanging above the jukebox at the Last Chance Saloon in Big Horn, Wyoming, and began a decades-long search for information about this clue. Had Ernest Hemingway spent time in tiny Big Horn—population 217—and if so, why?
I’m excited to announce the upcoming publication of my new book COCKEYED HAPPY: Hemingway’s Wyoming Summers with Pauline, due out from Chicago Review Press in 2020. The deeper I delved into Hemingway’s time spent in the Cowboy State—from 1928-1939 in Sheridan, Big Horn, Jackson, Cody and Yellowstone—the more I realized these weren’t just huntin’ and fishin’ stories. These were the years of Hemingway’s marriage to his second wife, Pauline. COCKEYED HAPPY, my narrative nonfiction book, draws upon previously unpublished information from diaries, interviews and journals that provide insight into an important period of Hemingway’s writing as well as the initial joy and ultimate heartbreak of the “Pauline years.”
Much attention has been focused on Ernest Hemingway’s time in Paris, Spain and Africa, but you can’t truly understand the whole man and his career without examining the time he spent in Wyoming. There, he finished writing A Farewell to Arms with 39 endings, was inspired by events in Sheridan to write “Wine of Wyoming,” completed the first draft of Death in the Afternoon, edited In Our Time, worked on “To Have and Have Not” and began drafting “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Wyoming—and Hemingway’s marriage to Pauline—are the context for his maturing into one of the greatest writers of his time. If you’d like a heads-up about the release of Cockeyed Happy and related events, be sure and fill in your email address below.
Photo by Povy Kendal Achison