Monday, December 24, 2012


Here is a short story that was published in Chum Literary Magazine last August.


As she moved his hand to her throat her blue eyes expanded in ritual fright and desire. The less she could breathe the more she knew she would feel him and if his penetration was true then abortions would follow. It had happened this way three times in the space of six months and while the abortions weren't exactly Celtic cannon she had told him nothing. In her own way she may have even loved him, expressing herself in a comfortably confused pot-pourri of ideas that she'd acquired from her father, grandfather and the internet.

The bedroom where he would take her faced the beach and the Gulf Stream and was on the twentieth floor of a high-rise next to the shipping channel. She would have preferred an imitation Bauhaus with sweeping white lines and protective stonewall, but the waterfront was public property and even with all her wealth there apparently were limits to what you could buy in America. Looking at her building from the beach he often thought that like his lover, its unblemished, blinding white façade was far too distant and severe and whispered of future disasters.

She was not from Miami, but appreciated its lack of traditions and the way that men looked at her when she drove her Aston Martin down Ocean Drive or parked next to one of her favorite boutiques in Coconut Grove. They loved her eyes and her diamond watch, her legs and her small but well shaped breasts. But most of all they could never get enough of the way that she would look at a man. As if he were the only person in the room or on the street and as if nothing else mattered. Her focused but ephemeral attention giving each of them their 15 seconds of fame. It was a drug and she needed it as much as they did.

The monthly events were altogether different from the chance encounters. Only old friends were ever invited and always in groups of three. Three being the minimum number for a Celtic quorum, even if you couldn't really call it a quorum in a deliberative sense. It was more a celebration of humiliation and dominance, although in that particular sect they liked to refer to it as a “trust building” experience. With just three friends for dinner they'd use the ropes. But with six or nine or twelve they could take turns holding her down. There was always an objective and the objective depended on the month and the ancient saying for that month, the father is fear, trust derives from pain, what to do when Leos collide, etc. It was difficult to remember everything but from the age of six she'd been raised for this, following the old ways, the ceremony and their language (a mix of pre-destination and romantic brutality). Her friends after all were depending on her for guidance and she had never let them down.

She believed in her cult and its future and initially had chosen him as a kind of designated pinch hitter. This Italian-Cuban native of the Keys would bring new blood to her decadent line of Uber-menschen businessmen. He was relatively young, younger than her, and poor, certainly compared to what she had, and this she figured was a good match. He was a barman on a cruise ship and that was where she'd seen him serving mojitos and daiquiris. She drank a lot and paid in cash when she was alone, which wasn't too often. She had a foreign accent, German or Swedish, and she liked the company of men.

The cruise was to the far reaches of the Lesser Antilles and Suriname, and on the fifth day out of Miami she arrived later than usual, ignored the others who were hovering about her and waited for him to finish his shift. “Take me back to my room” she whispered as he brought her her last drink. They stopped briefly on the deck to look at the sea and the full moon and he felt her waist and her hands, which were small and fine. They didn't have much to say. It was time and they knew it and at the door to her cabin he pushed her into the room and onto to her bed where he took her from behind, making her feel his pain. She, of course, appreciated the gesture and remembered, as he drilled into her, that there had never been a moment in her life without fear and that the fear had tempered and protected her from the things that would bring her down. Hadn't her father himself told her that he would always love her and that if another man even so much as looked at her that he would take the matter into his own hands. Wasn't this fear on his part? And wasn't he instilling it in her, wondering as she always would as a girl if any boy who ever looked at her would live to see another day? And didn't he also teach her how to come from the age of four, fingering but never penetrating, preparing her for the eventual public deflowing? Indeed he had, and she was as grateful as a Celtic daughter could be, given the circumstances.

In the world outside their tribe they called it incest and rape, child abuse and a host of other distasteful terms, but from her vantage point as a five year old it was just love, pure and unadulterated. If a man wanted to take a woman and be truly married to her then it had to be this way, in the circle of trust, from behind, with an initial thrust that would demonstrate once and for all who belonged to whom. That she belonged to her father was clear, or at least that was the plan. They would marry when she was twelve in a conservative rite with vetted friends, good food and wine. As a girl she had dreamed of this, of being united with her father as only lovers are. Deliriously happy as he would attend to her for hours in their wedding bed.

While those dreams never materialized all that had happened was hers to live with and cherish or despise, depending on the day and how she felt or who she was talking to. Of course, she told the pinch-hitter, Giacomo, about her upbringing and her father. At first affecting a kind of shame to see how he would react, blaming her parents and playing the victim. But as the weeks passed and their love-making blended with the drinking and the drinking with the pain, she told him more and he discovered that it was easy to get her to talk. She might not be telling him the truth but what she was saying had a certain coherence to it. He discovered that when she was drunk he could ask her anything and she would answer him so long as he was “matter of fact.” The most intimate details of her father's weekly sessions were his for the taking if his voice was neutral and clear. She liked easy to answer questions and on those rare occasions when he couldn't keep it simple he wouldn't get a response.

“When was the last time you were with your father?” he'd asked her as the two of them were sitting on the couch of her living-room. The apartment was quiet and the glass windows to the balcony were open and you could hear people shouting from the beach. She had half a bottle of Porto in her hand and was leaning against him naked and tanned as she took small steps into the twilight of her past. She had reached that blurred state she so often sought out in the evening, when her mind needed to wind down from the day and recover the stability she'd never had.

“We were with the lawyers and I was 11. It was in their office and they were wearing their robes and so you couldn't see much.”

“They worked for your father?”

“They did. And my grandfather, too.”

“He was also there?”

“No.” she said.

“And what were you wearing?”

“Nothing, of course,” and she told him that there was perhaps a film of the encounter because it was an official meeting and they had an interest in documenting these things for future generations.

Pedophiles with a need to set the record straight, he thought, with an expression that bordered on mild interest. There was a breeze blowing in from the ocean and he looked out the window and then back at her. He'd never asked her age, but assumed that she was at least ten years older than he was, just from the look that her eyes sometimes had. A tired gaze from too much experience, a mental fatigue she couldn't shake off.

“And what did your father do?”

“What he always did. I was on the desk, so that the lawyers could see and he was licking me. Slowly at first, concentrating on my clit and then expanding his scope to include the rest.”

“With the lawyers as passive observers?” he asked.

“No, not exactly,” she told him, “they participated, doing what they'd been told to do.”

“Which was?”

“Curious today, aren't we?”

“Sort of,” he said, feigning disinterest.

“Well, I'll tell you,” she told him taking another drink from the bottle, “but only because I love you, and because it really was beautiful, ceremonially speaking. They were the children of the goddess, Danu, and I became the Lady of the Lake under warm rushes of steam and liquids over my chest, neck and cheeks.”

“They were jacking off?” he asked.

“Of course.”

“You never told me that before.”

“You never asked” and he knew as soon as he'd said it that it was stupid but he couldn't help himself as he looked at his girlfriend and imagined her in a room with these men. It stopped him cold and as she went on describing the scene and its particulars he thought for a second that this was what insanity was like. Not being able to come clean or dislodge from your mind what could never be wiped away.

“Now I want you to fuck me like those old ugly lawyers never would,” she told him as she stood up and moved to the dining room, nearly tripping over a chair and dropping the Porto on the carpet.

“Get me another one,” she said motioning to him with her hands to come closer.

“Should I open it?” he asked, and she nodded a couple of times as she positioned herself against an antique wooden table. It was long and very heavy and he thought that it was the kind of table that you could jump or dance on and it wouldn't break, it was that strong.

“This is how it happened,” she said.


“With my first husband, not here but many years ago.” And she was bracing herself with her arms stretched out of in front of her, her legs spread wide, ready for his pleasure, submitting to him the way she's been taught to.

“Anyone ever tell you that your skin looks good against live oak with termite holes?”

“No,” she said, “now take me, take me here.”

He uncorked the Porto and took a swig. She was re-enacting her wedding night, the one where she'd been raped by her spouse in a hotel dining room that had been rented for the occasion. At least sixty people had watched, and, if he was to believe her, it was something that she had really looked forward to.

Later on, because of the pain and the blood she wouldn't sleep with another man for 20 years, until the pinch-hitter. The excuse for breaking her vow of chastity was that she needed to conceive but she didn't like the way a fetus felt inside of her and got rid of them with abortion pills. The RU 486 treatments weren't cheap at $500 a shot but that was about what she paid for a bottle of pink Moet et Chandon and comparing them to one of her favorite drinks helped her to keep things in perspective. Life was expensive, but even terminating it had its costs.

She loved her man and if she wanted to continue making love to him then she would have to use the pill every time he succeeded in doing what she wanted him to do. Birth control just wasn't contemplated in her cult and she didn't waste any time worry about it. She was still fertile at 41 and she loved the way he could make her come for hours on end, never letting up, never letting her stop. In bed or against the oak table she would scream at him, act deliriously, swear at her father and her mother and all the Teutonic knights and witches that had come before her. They hovered above her in those moments, laughing at her and her education, her foolish pride and the childlike belief in a love that would some day free her from this carousel of shame.

He took her where she wanted it. Holding her hips and hitting her another home-run as he pinned her against the table and realized that in delicate moments like these he was thoroughly expendable. She didn't need him, she never did and five minutes after he'd finished she announced that it was time to go out. They dressed and she was surprisingly steady considering that it was nine and she'd been drinking since two.

Down on the street it was a short walk to the bar just off Ocean Drive. that had couches or quasi-beds for those who wanted to get comfortable. It was a place that was set up with canopies, which together with the palm trees and the sand gave it an almost Arabian feel. An oasis of booze and attentive waiters that always put her in a good mood. She ordered two mojitos and as the waiter came back and Giacomo paid for the drinks two young men sitting on another couch had already taken notice of her. They were both Cubans and tanned with black, gel covered hair that seemed to reflect light into the darkness beyond the bar.

After her second drink he asked her if she wanted to leave but she pretended that she hadn't heard him and one of the Cubans immediately ordered another round of mojitos.

“I want to live life to the fullest!” she said standing up with her glass in a toast to her new friends as the waiter marched back to the bar.

“A la vida sin compromisos!” said the Cuban closest to her.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“Means damn the torpedoes.”

“Oh, but I want torpedoes,” and Giacomo looked on saying nothing, raising his glass whenever a new toast was proposed. He was drunk but it didn't matter. They were putting the move on her but he didn't care. She was damaged goods but they didn't know that and anyone could watch. She would want him to watch.

What happened next happened for no particular reason. She announced that she wanted to see the waves and the Cubans offered to take her there. It wasn't too far and he walked behind them as they staggered along in the sand with their mojitos in hand. The tide was coming in and you could hear the surf in the darkness. He followed maybe three feet behind them, the Cubans sometimes holding her, sometimes dragging her to the beach. She was kissing them as she moved along and when they were there at the water's edge she knelt down in front of the quiet one and unzipped his pants. The talkative one pulled her shorts off and came in her from the rear.

At that point Giacomo would have left but a floodlight appeared above them illuminating the scene along with a voice over the sound of helicopter blades and wind telling them to put their hands in the air and to stop what they were doing. The Cubans looked stunned and confused but his girlfriend turned her head for a second to see a camera on the nose of the chopper. The police were filming everything for posterity and she smiled, remembering the old ways and what a daughter had been told to do.

John Hemingway                       Copyright 2012, John Hemingway

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Here's a new poem from John Lyons


Hoy no ha venido nadie a preguntar;
ni me han pedido en esta tarde nada.
César Vallejo
We are destinations:
not Rome or Athens,
or São Paulo, or the zoo;
as friends or lovers,
sisters or brothers
fathers or mothers,
we are the destination,
and neither travel nor tourism is
an out-of-body experience;
we may take places to our heart
just as we take people to our heart
but we are always the destination
just as we are always the recipient
of the gift we give, of the giving,
of the love we make, of the loving;
we are the place where others
meet us, the point of arrival
and the point of departure,
our bodies and our senses
the theatre of our soul
in which our deepest dramas and
and most unworldly loves
are daily enacted; Barcelona
came to me one torrid summer,
many many years ago, the air,
dry as a whip, lashed my cheeks,
entered the deepest recesses
of my lungs, fed me with dust,
threw me into myself
like a discarded rag.
I was the destination
and nobody called.
Not a hair out of place,
not a stone unturned,
and nobody called.

São Carlos, 12 December 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Interview with Urban Daddy on running with the bulls

Published June 17, 2012

Bull Session
Bull-Running Advice from a Hemingway

Bull SessionWhen you want advice on being famous for no reason, you ask a Kardashian. When you want advice on surviving the running of the bulls, you ask a Hemingway. So we talked to John (Ernest’s grandson, author of the family memoir Strange Tribe, two-time runner of the bulls) for a few pointers in advance of next month’s run.

The whole week’s a nonstop party.
 “You meet friends, you make friends, if they don’t show up, you meet someone else,” he says. “People always ask, ‘How many hours of sleep did you get last night?’ ‘Oh, three. That’s not bad.’”

Well, except the running itself. “If you partied all night, you better be able to wake up and be in some sort of condition to run.”

There are a few simple rules: “You have to be 18. Don’t touch the bull. You can’t be drunk. And if you get knocked down, stay down.”

Leave the running shoes at home. “I just wear Converse.”

It’s over before you know it. “It’s two and a half, three minutes at the max.”

“Whether you’re a good runner or a bad runner, you could have bad luck. But that’s like crossing the street in NYC—you [could] get hit by a car.”

The people are more dangerous than the bulls. “You’ll get knocked down. You’re gonna get scraped, you may break a bone. It gets kind of crazy, with everyone pushing and everything.”

Beware of a bull separated from the herd. “If a bull becomes separated from the herd, it immediately stakes out a territory—anything within striking distance of its horns, he goes for. If he’s got you there, he will keep coming until he kills you.”

His grandfather ran. Or maybe he didn’t. “I see no proof that he did run, but there’s no proof that he didn’t. People have said forever that he used to run—that he ran like mad.”

Read more:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Review of Strange Tribe in El Pais

This review of "Los Hemingway, una familia singular" came out in the Madrid daily, El Pais, today.

Friday, April 20, 2012

New review of Strange Tribe from Brazil

Here is a new review of Strange Tribe from Brazil, in Portuguese.

Uma tribo mais que estranha

Luis Peazê - Publicado em 20/04/2012 07:04
Categoria: Literatura
Contexto: Hemigway
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Foto acima: esquerda capa de Strange Tribe (Ernest Hemingway e seu filho Gregory. A direita o autor, John Hemingway, filho de Gregory.
Ernest Hemingway, Prêmio Nobel de Literatura de 1954 e um dos símbolos americanos em mais de um sentido, com cuja obra e vida vence as barreiras do tempo como nenhum outro protagonista da literatura universal, sempre atual e instigante, certa vez foi surpreendido pelo filho mais novo, Gregory Hemingway, experimentando as meias de nylon da mãe e soltou a frase: Oh, meu Deus! Intimamente devastado e pensando “você também?”. Uma semana depois teria dito para o filho: - Gigi, nós viemos de uma tribo estranha, eu e você.

Por Luis Peazê  - tradutor de Por Quem os Sinos Dobram de Ernest Hemingway.

Gigi, ou Greg, foi o pai de John Hemingway, autor de Strange Tribe (Tribo Estranha), um livro de memórias que poderia ser um romance de ficção, daqueles que aprisionam o leitor no sofá, um filme, daqueles de se ver e rever várias vezes, ou ainda, um livro de auto-ajuda baseado em histórias reais da vida, de sofrimento, superação e do exercício do perdão, e até de uma aventura existencial. Na verdade, lê-lo pensando em qualquer uma dessas classificações, não fará diferença. Sem mencionar que, ao se tratar de Hemingway, é um livro da história da literatura, sem lê-lo, um naco importante ficaria faltando para qualquer estudioso.

Ocorre que o próprio autor, John, é um dos protagonistas centrais da história que começa em nossos dias, posto que o livro foi lançado recentemente (2007), e nos remete aos mais secretos labirintos hemingwayanescos, isto é, uma ramificação de fontes verídicas de clássicos da literatura de uma verve única, de segredos de família que moldaram a personalidade, obra e imagem de um autor que marcou várias gerações, de escritores, leitores, acadêmicos e cultura popular, neste caso dos Estados Unidos.

Enfim, pode-se dizer que existiu um Hemingway antes e um depois deStrange Tribe. Ainda que não tenha sido este o propósito do autor, demarcar a história hemingwaiana.

Para os versados na vida e obra de Hemingway, não era desconhecido o seu filho Greg que gostava de travestir-se, desde criança, que ao fim da adolescência implantou um seio (apenas um) para ver como ficaria, que mais tarde fizera uma cirurgia para trocar de sexo, e passou a chamar-se Glória, e que, apesar disso tudo, não era gay, era reconhecidamente maníaco depressivo e alcoólatra, foi casado quatro vezes, escritor e médico durante uma década e meia até perder a licença e morrer prisioneiro em uma cadeia feminina de Miami, por andar nu e embriagado em público, e por tudo isso, até então, considerado a ovelha negra daquela família.

Da mesma forma não era desconhecido de muitos as subjacências andrógenas na vida e obra do próprio grande Ernest Hemingway, que sacara de experiências pessoais, por exemplo, inversões de papéis, uma de suas mulheres teria vivenciado a fantasia de tornar-se lésbica ou homem e ele, no caso, a mulher de sua mulher, não só no secreto espaço de quatro paredes e uma cama, mas também em público através do corte de cabelo e tintura da mesma cor (cobre), ele e ela, em brincadeiras do gênero...  Sem ter perdido, até então, a imagem de símbolo do macho americano, número um, vencedor, que gostava de praticar box, desafiar os perigos dos safáris africanos na caça de tigres, leões e elefantes, ou nos mares do Caribe a procura de bater recordes de pescaria dos maiores marlins já fisgados no mundo, enquanto liderava um grupo de informantes do FBI (formado por ele mesmo) para espionar atividades anti-americanas a partir de Cuba. Experiências tais, inesgotáveis, como o feito de ter escrito uma peça de teatro, a Quinta Coluna, inspirada na Segunda Guerra Mundial, enquanto refugiava-se entre um pelotão da resistência num hotel em Madri, em meio a um bombardeio de verdade, sem contar ter sobrevivido a duas quedas de avião.

Tudo isso é “remasterizado” (na linguagem de cinema) em Strange Tribepelos recortes corretos e honestamente revelados pela obstinação de John Hemingway que angustiava descobrir, responder para si, acertar as contas com seu pai, sua mãe, com o avô, com a avó, tios, irmãos e com tudo o que havia lido a respeito de sua família cujo quebra-cabeças não lhe fazia sentido.

John não só revisitou cartas trocadas entre Gregory, seu pai, e Ernest, seu avô, mas introjetou-se nas crises de suas avós paternas e mãe esquizofrênica e alcoólatra, revirou as contrações uterinas das gestações conturbadas de sua hereditariedade, reviveu os seus sofrimentos de infância, em que trocava de endereço mais de uma vez por ano, seguidamente, perdendo a chance de criar vínculos, dos carinhos maternos, ao contrário, crescer vivenciando as crises da mãe, o alcoolismo, e a androgenia do pai maníaco depressivo e o seu comportamento desequilibrado.

Perguntando a parentes, primos, tios, lendo relatos de biógrafos, os próprios romances do avô famoso, e as repetidas manchetes de jornais do mundo todo informando que "mais um Hemingway" cometera suicídio, finalmente John nos brinda com um final feliz, na medida do possível, posto que nos ensina de maneira delicada e sem espetacularismo como é possível simplesmente dizer “eu não gosto disso” ao invés de julgar “isso é errado”, como é possível amar e perdoar os pais, mesmo tendo aguardado até o fim de suas vidas um carinho que nunca obteve, sem ter sucumbido aos mesmos erros e fraquezas de seus progenitores.

Com respeito a forma e estilo, John escreve de maneira fácil e convidativa, por revelar uma personalidade despojada de vaidades fúteis. Desde que a matéria prima da narrativa é rica e surpreendente, John escolhe uma estratégia temporal elíptica e semovente, indo ao passado e pulando para um futuro indeterminado, para trás e para frente, e vai assim até o final onde é, na verdade, os nossos dias e por isso o vocabulário é bem atual e rico de influências latinas (pensa e escreve em inglês), do espanhol e italiano, culturas que conheceu por ter vivido muitos anos na Itália e Espanha.

Não era nem preciso ser engraçado, mas há momentos de Strange Tribe que a gente e pego de surpresa e ri. Ernest Hemingway dissera uma vez que “você saberá se escreveu alguma coisa boa se conseguir fazer alguém chorar”. Eu diria modestamente que entreter, arejar a história da literatura universal e inspirar um leitor já seria o suficiente. Em Strange Tribe John Hemingway consegue um pouco mais do que isso.