Blume’s book is a slightly different animal. It’s a deeply, almost obsessively researched biography of a book, supported by a set of superb endnotes worth reading in their own right. And if that sounds a little dull or esoteric, you clearly haven’t read the novel she’s writing about...In recounting this tale of creative struggle and breakthrough, Blume can sometimes devote more attention to the horse race of competitive genius than to the artistic merits of the works and authors she describes. But with her emphasis on gossip and celebrity, she is arguably just following Hemingway’s lead.
Lesley M.M. Blume’s look at Ernest Hemingway’s rise to literary prominence...is an essential book, not because it covers Hemingway’s seminal years in Paris and the writing of his breakthrough novel, but because it is so very well done. Blume, a reporter and cultural historian, combines the best aspects of critic, biographer and storyteller in this book, which should be on every serious Hemingway fan’s bookshelf...It’s a complicated story, told masterfully.
Rather than tackle the whole man, Blume sets a manageable goal, an examination of the few critical years in which Hemingway transformed himself from a journalist and writer of promise into a public phenomenon, author of a novel, The Sun Also Rises, that set a new direction for American prose and defined a whole generation...Blume writes that the outline alone for her book ran to 1,400 pages. And every page of that labor is visible. Not that this is a long or ponderous book, though footnotes take up one-fourth of the 300-odd pages. But it is thick with juicy details.