They also show corpses. The collection contains black and white images of dead freedom fighters lying on the ground in war-torn Spain; before and after pictures of executed prisoners in China; snapshots of bloated bodies floating in Florida waterways after a ruinous hurricane.
Death whispered in Hemingway's ear throughout his life. We can't hear her words, but we can see how she directed him. In an early effort at poetry, for example, Hemingway wrote about anonymous suicides in Montparnasse. Soon after, when he discovered the killing fests that were Spanish bullfights, he was entranced. Continuing on this trail we see that a character in his 1924 short story "Indian Camp" slits his own throat. Then, when their father, Ed Hemingway, shot himself in the head in 1928, both Ernest and his brother, Leicester, asked their mother for the gun. (Suicidal depression seemed to run in the Hemingway family. Not only did Ed and Ernest kill themselves, but so did Leicester. So did a sister, Ursula, and so did Ernest's granddaughter Margaux.)
Hemingway killed countless animals as a hunter and fisherman before going after himself. He offered himself up to death in wars, in crashes, and by battling a fire. Toward the end of his life, he would have walked into an airplane's spinning propellers if he had not been stopped in time.
Presenting his suicide was one of the biggest challenges I faced when writing Ernest Hemingway. I wanted in no way to glamorize or ennoble his death, not only because I was writing for young people, but because it was neither glamorous nor noble. I chose to present it straightforwardly as the sudden, violent, final act that it was. My original manuscript therefore ended with that Sunday morning blast from a double-barrelled shotgun, with Mary Hemingway's stunned insistence that her husband's death had been an accident and Archibald MacLeish's poetic rebuttal that there was nothing accidental in the death of his friend.
But had I treated my audience too violently, too abruptly? Some early readers thought so. I rejected the suggestion to "soften" the suicide, because doing so would have run counter to my objective. I decided instead to add an afterword in which I summed up the public reaction to Hemingay's death, the how and where of his burial, and the history of his posthumous publications. After all, the only comfort to be taken following a death like this lies in reassurance that life goes on.