On reading Hemingway to my son

Across the River and into the Trees

My son is almost a week into his nineteenth month, and — if I could somehow ignore the times when he has scared the ever-loving [redacted] out of me — I am still awestruck at how much I love him. We’re currently reading Across the River and into the Trees, our fourth Hemingway book, at bedtime. He loves it. Tonight he was so exhausted, from running through the house while yelling and throwing his basketball at anything that might be funny to see fall (i.e. everything), that he fell fast asleep before I had finished reading two pages.

But you always had to count and count fast after the bombardment to know how many shooters you would have. He was hit three times that winter, but they were all gift wounds; small wounds in the flesh of the body without breaking bone, and he had become quite confident in his immortality since he knew he should have been killed in the heavy artillery bombardment that always preceded the attacks. Finally he did get hit properly and for good. No one of his other wounds had ever done to him what the first big one did. I suppose it is just the loss of the immortality, he thought. Well, in a way, that is quite a lot to lose.
Ernest Hemingway, Across the River and into the Trees

I started reading him To Have and Have Not, my favorite, when he was just a few months old. I figured that he had no idea what I was saying, and I was certainly not going to be engaged by Hop on Pop multiple times each night. After teaching him all about Harry Morgan, whose voice I usually read in my best Bogart impression, we read For Whom the Bell Tolls, and then A Moveable Feast. And now we’re on to Across the River and into the Trees. “Reading Hemingway aloud” is a completely different experience from simply “reading Hemingway”. I highly recommend it.

Note: We do read plenty of Dr. Seuss during daytime playtime. But bedtime is reserved for Papa.

Across the River and into the Trees

This post is part of The Hemingway Collection, an archive of essays, images, and hyperlinks to interesting articles about the great American author.

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davidgagne.net is the personal weblog of me, David Vincent Gagne. I've been publishing here since 1999, which makes this one of the oldest continuously-updated websites on the Internet.


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You can read dozens of essays and articles and find hundreds of links to other sites with stories and information about Ernest Hemingway in The Hemingway Collection.