True At First Light by Ernest Hemingway
A Fictional Memoir Of His Last African Safari

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Synopsis

Both revealing self-portrait and dramatic fictional chronicle of his final African safari, Ernest Hemingway's last unpublished work was written when he returned from Kenya in 1953. Edited by his son Patrick, who accompanied his father on the safari, True at First Light offers rare insights into the legendary American writer in the year of the hundredth anniversary of his birth.
A blend of autobiography and fiction, the book opens on the day his close friend Pop, a celebrated hunter, leaves Ernest in charge of the safari camp and news arrives of a potential attack from a hostile tribe. Drama continues to build as his wife, Mary, pursues the great black-maned lion that has become her obsession. Spicing his depictions of human longings with sharp humor, Hemingway captures the excitement of big-game hunting and the unparalleled beauty of the scenery -- the green plains covered with gray mist, zebra and gazelle traversing the horizon, cool dark nights broken by the sounds of the hyena's cry.
As the group at camp help Mary track her prize, she and Ernest suffer the "incalculable casualties of marriage," and their attempts to love each other well are marred by cruelty, competition and infidelity. Ernest has become involved with Debba, an African girl whom he supposedly plans to take as a second bride. Increasingly enchanted by the local African community, he struggles between the attraction of these two women and the wildly different cultures they represent.
In True at First Light, Hemingway also chronicles his exploits -- sometimes hilarious and sometimes poignant -- among the African men with whom he has become very close, reminisces about encounters with other writers and his days in Paris and Spain and satirizes, among other things, the role of organized religion in Africa. He also muses on the act of writing itself and the author's role in determining the truth. What is fact and what is fiction? This is a question that was posed by Hemingway's readers throughout his career and is one of his principal subjects here.
Equally adept at evoking the singular textures of the landscape, the thrill of the hunt and the complexities of married life, Hemingway weaves a tale that is rich in laughter, beauty and profound insight. True at First Light is an extraordinary publishing event -- a breathtaking final work from one of this nation's most beloved and important writers.
 

About Ernest Hemingway

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Ernest Hemingway did more to change the style of English prose than any other writer of his time. Publication of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms immediately established Hemingway as one of the greatest literary lights of the twentieth century. As part of the expatriate community in 1920s Paris, the former journalist and World War I ambulance driver began a career that led to international fame. Hemingway was an aficionado of bullfighting and big-game hunting, and his main protagonists were always men and women of courage and conviction who suffered unseen scars, both physical and emotional. He covered the Spanish Civil War, portraying it in the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, and he also covered World War II. His classic novella The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He died in 1961.
 
Published July 25, 2002 by Scribner. 320 pages
Genres: Romance, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Children's Books. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for True At First Light

Kirkus Reviews

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Ernest Hemingway never kept a journal, says his son Patrick, editor of this book from a manuscript twice its size describing life in a Kenyan safari camp in the winter of 1953—54.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of True At First Light: A Fictio...

Publishers Weekly

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Who wants to go on an 11-hour audio safari with an aging, ego-bloated Hemingway? That's the immediate drawback to listening to this posthumous memoir-turned-novel (edited into its current form by the

Jun 28 1999 | Read Full Review of True At First Light: A Fictio...

Publishers Weekly

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More a curiosity than a major contribution to his oeuvre, this fictional memoir of a 1953 safari in Kenya, edited by Hemingway's son Patrick from a first-draft manuscript and published to celebrate th

Jun 28 1999 | Read Full Review of True At First Light: A Fictio...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Who wants to go on an 11-hour audio safari with an aging, ego-bloated Hemingway? That's the immediate drawback to listening to this posthumous memoir-turned-novel (edited into its current form by the

Jun 28 1999 | Read Full Review of True At First Light: A Fictio...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

More a curiosity than a major contribution to his oeuvre, this fictional memoir of a 1953 safari in Kenya, edited by Hemingway's son Patrick from a first-draft manuscript and published to celebrate th

Jun 28 1999 | Read Full Review of True At First Light: A Fictio...

Entertainment Weekly

It buries the young writer who was determined to write ''one true sentence.'' ''In Africa,'' he writes in this book, ''a thing is true at first light and a lie by noon.'' Unfortunately, True at First Light comes in at about 11:15 a.m. D.

Jul 09 1999 | Read Full Review of True At First Light: A Fictio...

BookPage

Hemingway himself could write bad Hemingway with the best of them, notably in Across the River and into the Trees (wickedly parodied by E.B.

Jul 28 2014 | Read Full Review of True At First Light: A Fictio...

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