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I hate these academics that get praise, and they’re shallow. It’s all smug and bullshit. [Ian] McEwan and [Martin] Amis and all them. Middle-class mafia … They can buy their way to a lifelong competitive advantage over the uneducated and poor. This middle-class business, it’s the only place in the world where it’s really strong because it comes right down from the Queen. It’s a nepotistic way British society is run. They don’t draw from the whole gene pool, like America. That’s why you get good writers in America. There’s never been any great writers here in England, not in the last century. Look at Kingsley Amis. You can’t believe in the characters he writes about. And the experiences he attributes to them. And yet they made him a Sir. They’re disgusting people really. It can be treacherous, the publishing world. John Healy interview May 2012
The Cuirt Festival is renowned for risk, but do the daredevils of Galway know what it means to invite John Healy, the author of The Grass Arena? Barbaric Genius, Observer 9th April 2007, Sky Arts 2012
I had a very violent childhood. ibid. John
It’s a mental opiate – chess. ibid.
‘There are no tomorrows. Tomorrow can’t be relied upon to come. Each day you have to prove yourself anew – stealing, fighting, begging and drinking.’ ibid. John Healy’s The Grass Arena
In 2008 The Grass Arena was brought back into print by Penguin Books. ibid.
During his chess career John won ten international chess tournaments. ibid.
The Grass Arena was published in 1988 by Faber & Faber to immediate acclaim. ibid.
The Grass Arena was to remain out of print and unobtainable for fifteen years. ibid.
John Healy’s first book in twenty years Coffee House Chess Tactics was published in August 2010 by a Dutch publisher. The Metal Mountain and The Glass Cage remain unpublished. ibid.
I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast p7
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer. Ernest Hemingway
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it. Ernest Hemingway
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Ernest Hemingway
My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way. Ernest Hemingway
It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way. Ernest Hemingway
‘Hemingway was a writer who happened to be American. But his palate was incredibly wide, and delicious, and violent, and brutal, and ugly. All of those things.’ Hemingway I, Michael Katakis, BBC 2021
Ernest Hemingway remade American literature. He pared story-telling to its essentials. Changed the way characters speak. Expanded the worlds a writer could legitimately explore, and left an indelible record of how men and women lived in his lifetime. ibid.
Behind the public figure was a troubled and conflicted man who belonged to a troubled and conflicted family with its own drama and darkness and closely held secrets. ibid.
‘The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.’ ibid. Hemingwa
‘You see, I’m trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across. Not to just depict life, or criticise it. But to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me, you actually experience the thing. You can’t do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well. Hemingway II
With the help of sympathetic friends, Hemingway would publish two slender books, three stories and ten poems, and In Our Time. ibid.
By the time A Fairwell to Arms topped the best-seller list in 1929 colourful stories had already begun to circulate about Ernest Hemingway, many of them told by the writer himself … It became harder and harder to tell the real Hemingway from the one he had created. Hemingway III
‘All stories if continued far enough end in death.’ ibid.
What was happening in his beloved Spain was beginning to change his mind. It was now being torn apart by a civil war. Early in 1936 reactionary elements of the army eventually led by a fascist general named Francisco Franco and supported by wealthy industrialists, great landowners and the Catholic Church joined forces to try to overthrow the duly elected socialist government. Hitler provided Franco and his rebels with bombers and fighter planes and German pilots to fly them. Their goal was to terrorise the civilian population. The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini dispatched tanks and nearly 80,000 troops. Within weeks, Franco’s forces had seized one third of the country from those faithful to the government … Between 30-40,000 men from more than 50 countries would answer the call. ibid.
When the writer Martha Gellhorn, a family friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, introduced herself to Ernest Hemingway at the bar in Sloppy Joe’s in December 1936 she was 28 years old, 9 years younger than he. Hemingway IV
Hemingway’s sons would come to visit and begin to get to know the woman with whom their father was openly living. ibid.
When For Whom the Bell Tolls was published, Marxist critics attacked the novel as a betrayal of their cause because it showed sympathy for the war’s victims on both sides. ibid.
On May 17th 1944 Ernest Hemingway arrived in London, assigned by Collier’s magazine to cover the Allied invasion of France, now less than three weeks away. He was 44 years old but seemed much older, and felt that the luck that had kept him alive through two wars would likely not continue through another. Hemingway V
‘Nothing is mine’, she [Mary Welsh] wrote. The man is his own with various adjuncts: his writing, his children, his cats. The strip of bed where I lie is not mine’. But she stayed. ibid.
The Old Man and the Sea he wrote in just eight weeks. Hemingway VI
For many readers A Moveable Feast, a combination of what had really happened and what Hemingway wished had happened, would be his final masterpiece. ibid.