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Jack Phelan is a forty-two-year-old ...
Jack Phelan is a forty-two-year-old underachiever. He lives in South Florida, and though he mows lawns for a living, he's not what you might think. He's got an exceptionally sharp mind and is a self-educated Hemingway aficionado. After Jack gets into a highly unlikely accident, he's flown by helicopter to the nearest hospital in West Palm Beach where he remains in a coma for four days. But minutes after he blacks out, he finds himself in Key West, Florida. He's leaning on the brick wall in front of the Hemingway Home now turned museum. As he admires the house and grounds, he suddenly realizes someone is standing right next to him. Thinking it's a tourist crowding him, he turns to confront the man. But he doesn't. Instead his eyes spring wide open and he is absolutely stupefied. Standing alongside him is an aged Papa Hemingway, and he's staring straight into Jack's buggy eyes.
Hem has been sent from above to help determine whether or not Jack has what it takes to write a book for "The Main Man above the clouds." But what Ernest doesn't know is that the book is going to be about him. And that its purpose is to change the world's perception of the swaggering, hard-knuckled, macho myth he has become. Over the next four days, Jack Phelan and Ernest Hemingway travel to some of the legendary author's old haunts and rub shoulders with many of his long gone friends. But wait. Once their time together ends, the story is still not over. That's when things really get interesting.
Posted June 19, 2014
For starters, I need to say that it is very hard to offer an unbiased review of this book. Hemingway is my absolute favorite author of all time and I bought the book for that reason alone, but of course, that is a lot of pressure for a writer! Read full review at Book Troll's Real Escape Book Blog!
What I Liked: Hemingway is in it. I also found myself relating to Jack almost immediately, because I personally had the same experience with Papa. I had read The Old Man and the Sea in school when I was a kid, but I didn't like it. I also taught A Farewell to Arms and a few short stories when I was younger - and I still wasn't a fan. Something happened, though, around the age of 30 and I read more of Hemingway's work. I went back and reread the ones I hadn't like and loved them this time around. Jack's slow easing into his fascination with the author hit close to home for me.
I also enjoyed the way that the story balanced the then and now. It brought to mind Midnight in Paris, my favorite movie, and I liked seeing how the things that Jack learned from his hero were relevant, but also imperfect in a way - like life. I enjoyed the way Hemingway was portrayed, too, for the most part. I like that even he says most people get him all wrong - because I feel like that would absolutely be the first thing he would say if he were to return today.
Finally, I truly loved how both Jack and Hemingway struggled to fit into modern society, because this is a question that weighs on me, too. Could my heroes survive the world of books now? A world when authors who have never heard of Hemingway are publishing vast amounts of titles? I thought this was handled well - and with tact. The opinions were not forced on the reader; rather, we were left to make our own conclusions.
What I Didn't Like: As such a fan, there were two things in particular that bothered me. First of all was the language he used. I wanted to see some of his dialogue neatened, so it almost read a little more like his prose. I think I would have enjoyed the homage to his style and his concise use of words seen through the eyes of another author.
Secondly, I found the prose, at times, too "family friendly." I am not a fan of vulgarity for vulgarity's sake, but there were times when I would have preferred stronger language and expressions. I think that a person like Hemingway - and likely Jack, based on his character - would not hold back on cursing. There were moments that just felt tame or underachieved because of the more PG-feel to the overall story.
My biggest challenge with the book, however, is something that is 100% personal and is probably limited to a small population of readers. Winton does a fantastic job weaving in Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and others alongside Hemingway; however, because I didn't need an introduction, there were large chunks of exposition that felt like they were taking away from deeper connections to those characters. This is absolutely my issue - the average reader probably actually doesn't know (or doesn't remember from high school) that F. Scott Fitzgerald was named for Francis Scott Key, a distant relative. For me, the inclusion of this fact was unnecessary and I wanted a deeper level of "inside jokes" about the era. For most readers, this is actually ideal as it stands.
I really enjoyed this book - and I am glad I purchased it. As soon as I saw it mentioned on Facebook, I picked it up, because I had to read it!
Posted April 30, 2014
not only on the story but on the author. I have noticed and admired in Four Days and with The Last American Martyr how the author's mind is open to the idea of those on the other side (or as I like to call it, life after life) is not in some galaxy far, far away. I believe this openness of heart and mind also speaks to the depth of emotions Tom Winton is able to convey in his books. What an outstanding tale of a near-death experience/out of body experience...whatever one chooses...to be able to spend four days with someone as unique as Hemingway. I've often heard non-fiction makes great fiction, which is not only mentioned in the book (genre: fiction? non-fiction?), which makes me wonder if parts of Four Days has some bits of non-fiction weaved into the pages. I guess only the author knows...
Another good one Mr. Winton. Now on to the next... - Terry Lee
Posted March 19, 2014
Posted February 10, 2014
If you are a Hemingway fan I can't say enough about this book. From the first page to the very last you feel as though YOU spent the four days with "Papa". The scenery description detail puts your mind in each place the characters are at. As you read, you will find that there is a love story hidden in the background... your heart WILL get warm! Hemingway shines in this story as a great man not just in literature but also of humanity. This is my first experience reading work from Tom Winton...I look forward to reading more of his great storytelling! Happy reading...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 1, 2014
Posted January 17, 2014
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