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Linkages: book stories from your weekend

May 29, 2012 |  1:35 pm


The biopic "Hemingway and Gellhorn," which sought to tell the story of the love affair between Ernest Hemingway and writer Martha Gellhorn, his third (but not final) wife, debuted on HBO on Monday night. Starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, and directed by Philip Kaufman ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being"), it would seem to be an obvious home run. Or not. Television critic Robert Lloyd writes, "it is never quite believable, either as history or drama."

Jerry Stahl, one of the co-writers of "Hemingway and Gellhorn," is writing for the Rumpus about something completely different: He's about to become a dad, again, at 58. His columns are about as far from the miracle-of-birth-style narrative as they are from the war-torn lands of Spain. Here's a sample of his latest: “At this point,” my weary perma-cramped girlfriend tells the doctor, “this baby doesn’t need to be born – she needs to be evicted.”

Scholar and critic Paul Fussell, best known for his 1975 book "The Great War and Modern Memory," died Wednesday at the age of 88. In our Saturday obituary, Elaine Woo describes his thorny criticism. "In 'Class: A Guide Through the American Status System' (1983), he expounded on class distinctions, which he viewed as essentially a matter of taste manifested in one's choice of cars, houses, athletic obsessions and clothes....In 'BAD, or: The Dumbing of America' (1991), Fussell was unremittingly sarcastic, listing alphabetically many aspects of modern life that he found crass."

One critic who is very much alive is Carlin Romano (I sat next to him at our National Book Critics Circle meetings, so I know this for sure.) Romano, who was once book editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and now is critic at large at the Chronicle of Higher Education, is the author of the new book "America the Philosophical." Sure, it sounds intense, and at 688 pages it's physically heavy, but perhaps it is not an entirely intimidating read. "America the Philosophical?," he writes at the Chronicle, in a piece adapted from his book. "It sounds like Canada the Exhibitionist or France the Unassuming: a mental miscue, a delusional academic tic. Everyone knows that Americans don't take philosophy seriously, don't pay any attention to it, and couldn't name a contemporary academic philosopher if their passports depended on it."


Bill Buford on Martha Gellhorn

Are you ready for "Hemingway and Gellhorn"?

Jerry Stahl on writing, Mengele and muttering at 3 a.m.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen in "Hemingway & Gellhorn." Credit: HBO