Finding Hemingway by Ken Dortzbach

3 Stars

Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises has always been Callie McGraw’s emotional support book, sustaining her through life’s ups and downs. Laid off from her high-powered job as a corporate lawyer, Callie may be at loose ends for six months until her next position starts, but she still has her favorite tale of the Lost Generation to help her feel less so.

Then Callie gets a phone call from the deceased Nobel laureate himself telling her to come find him. And that’s only the first call of many to come.

Part romance, part travelogue, part tale of self-discovery, Finding Hemingway, take us from Barcelona to Madrid, and on to the running of the bulls in Pamplona. While replete with delicious tapas and foot-stomping Flamenco, Finding Hemingway falls short of a full-throated Olé! Once on the road, we see Callie, a heretofore overachieving, over-controlling and over-scheduled thirty-something, behaving in a manner at odds with what she portrays as her core self. Granted, a certain amount of carousing is to be expected when emulating Hemingway’s not so merry band, yet Callie’s casual, and often callous, treatment of her new-found traveling companion, Trevor, as well as her various love interests, is a bridge too far in terms of credibility, not to mention likability. Trevor, a failed graduate student in comparative literature with dubious social skills, serves as no more than a foil for Callie, a puppy trailing at her heels to be cast off the moment some new dashing stranger appears on her radar.

No doubt, Finding Hemingway is an entertaining jaunt through beautiful country, and is not without its memorable moments—who wouldn’t want to wile away the days sipping on the world’s best Sangría? Yet, when examined more closely, the underlying conceit—beyond the grave communication from the great writer himself— proves to be more believable and enjoyable, than the journey of change taken by Callie who comes to grate somewhat on our nerves much like an out of tune Spanish guitar.

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