Visiting the grave of Ernest Hemingway on a day in July 1999, a century after he was born, was an important day for a New Jersey teenager who liked to write in clipped sentences without commas, or highfalutin descriptors.

The experience left an impression on the child, who is father to this man (as another important writer once wrote).

Writing a newspaper column about the suicide of a similar writer in Colorado just a few years later left me making comparisons between the two men of letters, macho and life-loving to all outward appearances. Why had both retreated to rural locations, and mired themselves in silence – until the blast of a round in the chamber?*

A story I wrote, inspired all those years ago by standing at a hero’s grave, and leaving him a piece of paper lanced into the ground with a pen, got some notice last week. The flash-fiction piece got second place in a big contest at Squalorly, a fine literary magazine. It was a good place for a memory, and a feeling.

No matter how messy an end, some adventures can never end in defeat.


*I’d reprint that 2005 column about H.S. Thompson here, but that newspaper is long gone, along with the office it was housed in, its publisher, and most of the staff.*

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