A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


An Explanation For That Gap
Saturday, June 20, 2009

In August of 1835 Edgar Allan Poe left Baltimore for Richmond Virginia. While he thought fondly of Baltimore and passed through on business and to visit family he did not return until September and October of 1849. Of his final days there, there has been much speculation. His mysterious death at age 40 in Baltimore has been explained as having been caused by alcoholism to an unlikely case of rabies. His remains were placed in lot 27 (near that to his grandparents and brother) in the Westminster Burying Ground of Fayette and Greene Streets. It was noted by the press that Mr. Poe was wearing ill-fitting clothes that were probably not his own. Not much is known of what Poe did in those months in Baltimore.

It was in Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s Retornamos Como Sombras (We Return as Shadows, but to my knowledge this novel has never been translated into English) that I first discovered that Hemingway had volunteered in 1942 to look for marauding German submarines in his yacht El Pilar. What was true and what was false in Taibo’s plot? Taibo wrote:

1941. While Mexico is about to declare war on Germany, Hitler is injecting himself with Mexican caffeine and becomes addicted to peyote to resist the pressures of the Eastern Front. In the middle of the Chiapanecan forest (in Mexico) a group of brown-shirted Germans march to the tune of an old gramophone and is accosted by a persistent youth who wants to do them in. A poet, recruited as a spy, discovers that the Mexican Minister of the Interior has a lover who works for the Abwehr IV. A few German submarines cruise the Mexican coastline for a place where a final push to attack the American giant could be unleashed. Hemingway in one more of his alcoholic/literary crisis falls asleep in a Havana swimming pool and re-appears with no explanation in Mexico City.

Taibo's novel is his explanation of what Hemingway may have done during that gap.

I am certainly no Poe or Hemingway, they of those mysterious gaps on which so much speculation has been written about. But those who regularly might read this blog might wonder why it is that the blog ceased on Saturday June 13th. My excuses for this minor literary silence are quite simple. I was too far into South Eastern Texas. But not close enough to the gulf to spot any German submarines. I was also far from any computers as John Arnold and I drove his Ford F-150 crew cab pickup and his concealed Kimber 45 single-action automatic with laser sights. We were headed on a 290 mile trip to the Santa Fe Ranch that sits between, and beyond, the towns of Falfurrias and Linn, Texas. I didn’t dare ask the quiet and soft spoken patrón, Mike East how big his ranch was. I am sure that he would have paralleled Gene Simmons’ answer on how big his tongue is with a, “It’s big enough.”

Back in Vancouver last Thursday morning (3am) I have been trying to catch up as I am overwhelmed by the overwhelming growth of our garden and a pile of one week’s worth of New York Times. The final clincher and probable ultimate cause of the gap is Rebecca's and my involvement as speakers at the World Rose Festival held yesterday, today and tomorrow.


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