When Ernest Hemingway died on July 2, 1961, Mary Hemingway asked the Hemingway’s good friend, journalist Leonard Lyons, to announce the death of the Nobel Prize-winner to stunned readers and admirer everywhere. Both Hemingways admired Lyons for his fidelity to the truth, that “he would get the story right.” (As it turns out the “truth” was not quite what it seemed, since Mary initially denied that her husband’s death was suicide.) This memoir recounts the quarter-century long friendship between Hemingway and Leonard Lyons, which eventually came to include Lyons’s wife and three sons. In this short book Jeffrey Lyons recounts visits to Hemingway in Cuba (where “Papa” first taught him how to shoot a gun) as well as nights out with the great writer at such popular New York watering holes as the Stork Club and Toots Shor’s. Throughout the book Hemingway comes across as a hard-working, generous, and thoughtful man of letters, and not the gruff, hard drinking beast perpetually looking for a fight that he was often perceived as. This is a book about friendship, loyalty, and trust between a famed novelist and a working journalist and his family.
Jeffrey Lyons grew up in a home visited by many of the greats of his father’s time. He has cohosted three national movie review shows—Sneak Previews, MSNBC’s At the Movies, and Reel Talk—in his forty-five-year career continues in television, radio, and print. Lyons is the author of Stories My Father Told Me (Abbeville) and the coauthor of 101 Great Movie for Kids, as well as three books of baseball trivia, Out of Left Field, Curveball and Screwballs, and Short Hops and Foul Tips. He lives in New York City.