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Hemingway Adventure

Ketchum, Idaho (first day)

Ketchum, Idaho, USA 
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Hemingway's physical and mental health deteriorated fast in his last years out west.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureStepping up into the kitchen, (I can hear his freezer humming from where I stand) he found the key to the gun room, selected a double-barrelled Boss shotgun, loaded two shells, walked through to where I’m now standing, turned the gun on himself and, somehow, fired both barrels into his head.

Blood, death and appalling injury would not have shocked Hemingway. He had been shooting living creatures since he was a boy, he’d seen men blasted apart by mortar shells before his eighteenth birthday, he’d wiped out lions and leopard and rhino, and seen the horns of a bull pass through a man’s thigh.

What terrified him most was not losing his life but losing his mind. Losing the ability to write. One of the saddest memories in this heart-breaking house must be that recalled by his doctor George Saviers, of Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winner, breaking down in tears when he found himself unable to find words to compose a simple message for President Kennedy’s inauguration in February 1961.

I’m glad to finish the filming and leave behind this house with photos of Ernest and Mary in happy times and bathroom towels marked ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’, and the shelves of books and racks of period magazines and the inevitable African game trophies on the walls. Two distinctive memories will always vaguely disturb me though. One is a lustily gruesome painting above the stairs of two Spanish abattoir workers in the act of skinning a bull; the other, two small boxes carefully preserved in a glass display-cabinet in the sitting-room. One contains 5 mm cartridges, the other .22 rifle bullets.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Ketchum, Idaho (first day)
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Ketchum, Idaho
  • Book page no: 250

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