Selfies with Hemingway by Gillian Bradshaw




Prose


 


#1

Museo del Prado:
June 14, 2014
Don Ernesto,

This is us in front of the Prado about to visit your friends Mantegna, Greco, and Bruegel (among others). I like how the façade of the building is still visible through your ghostly presence in this photo. It makes me wonder where you really are now… Probably up in Writer’s Heaven, sitting a little removed from the others, drinking an absinthe and trying to work up the courage to speak to Dostoyevsky. Do you know, you cast as long a shadow for me as he does for you?

Sincerely,
Gillian

Further reading:
Death in the Afternoon
For Whom the Bell Tolls

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#2

June 23, 2014
Don Ernesto,

I took this while reading For Whom the Bell Tolls in the Botanical Gardens. And, truly, they don’t seem to have changed since Robert Jordan yearned for them during the Spanish Civil War: “’the iron fence, the gardens, and the gravel walks and the green of the lawns where they touch the gravel, and the trees deep with shadows and the many fountains, and now the chestnut trees will be in bloom.’” To be honest, I hate quoting you. It doesn’t feel right to see my prose next to yours.

Sincerely,
Gillian

Further reading:
For Whom the Bell Tolls

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#3

Cervecería Alemana:
June 23, 2014
Don Ernesto,

Here I am watching football at the Cervecería Alemana—you’re not in this one since your personal table was some meters away. I walked through the Madrid heat—getting lost more than once for lack of a map—only to find your table by the window already taken by a pair of chatting men. I settled nearby and ordered a caña, trying not to glare at the intruders; for all I knew, they could have been this generation’s Hemingways. (In one way, they certainly were.)

Sincerely,
Gillian

P.S. When Spain scored, a woman spilled beer all over a plate of jamón.

***

#4

Calle Velázquez, 23:
June 24, 2014
Don Ernesto,

This corner of Madrid should be familiar to you. Recalling your support for the Republicanos, I posed with your spirit once again—this time outside the former headquarters of the International Brigades. You seem pretty well, but I look tired.

I could be studying. Instead, I go out after class every day looking for traces of you.

Sincerely,
Gillian

Further reading:
For Whom the Bell Tolls

***

#5a

Sobrino de Botín:
June 24, 2014
Don Ernesto,

I came to meet you at Botín’s for dinner, but it didn’t work out very well. It was raining—no, that’s not a tear on my face—and Old Madrid is very confusing, but I finally found your favorite restaurant. You made it sound so pleasant and comforting that I was looking forward to sharing a meal with you there: “But meantime I would rather dine on suckling pig at Botin’s than sit and think of casualties my friends have suffered.”

In the end I found it, but I didn’t eat there. It turned out to be too expensive for me, and the host had such reverence for you that he didn’t believe I was really there to see you. I should have known it would be too fancy from the moment I read the words: “We lunched up-stairs at Botín’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta.” I was foolish for having assumed that this was an exaggeration.

Forced to leave you to enjoy your dinner alone, I ended up down the street at a place called Taurina. (You’ve never been there.) I would not recommend it.

Sincerely,
Gillian

P.S. Sorry if I kept you waiting.

Further reading:
Death in the Afternoon
The Sun Also Rises

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#6

Parque del Retiro:
June 27, 2014
Don Ernesto,

Having visited the Botanical Gardens, I decided to continue following Robert and María’s unrealized dreams of “’[walking] in the park and [rowing] on the lake.’” So this photo was taken in the Parque del Retiro. The lake was only a few yards away. It breaks my heart that María and Robert were never able to visit, even in fiction.

Sincerely,
Gillian

Further reading:
For Whom the Bell Tolls

***

#7

Plaza de Toros Monumental de las Ventas:
June 29, 2014
Don Ernesto,

Here we are before watching my first—and quite possibly my last—bullfight. You say that one ”can only truly make…a judgment when he, or she, has seen the things that are spoken of and knows truly what their reactions to them would be.” So I paid €4.00 for a ticket in the sombra (as you recommended), and sat through the killing of six bulls. You’ve certainly convinced me that it’s a hell of an art form, but as for it’s being worth the pain (vale la pena), I’ll have to write to you further on this subject soon….

Sincerely,
Gillian

Further reading:
“The Capital of the World”
Death in the Afternoon
For Whom the Bell Tolls

***

Long Island City, Queens
September 16, 2014
Don Ernesto,

I’ve been back from Madrid since July, but have neglected to write to you thus far. I’d like to thank you for guiding me through a foreign city this summer. It would have been far less memorable without your words.

Perhaps this endeavor was ultimately a failure. I never felt quite able to catch up with you. On the other hand, you’ve shown me so much. About enjoying a place. About supporting a cause. About working life into fiction.

Although your works are as living as ever, now that I’m back in New York I’m finding it harder to imagine you were ever alive. What can I say? Suddenly I want even more proof.

Lovingly,
Gillian

Gillian Bradshaw is OE’s Senior Intern. She is a student at NYU.