Monday, January 29, 2018

Chance's Corner: Oscar's Season 2017

2017's Oscar nominations dropped last week, and some, particularly actor James Franco, were left scratching their heads. Admittedly, I was also pretty shocked when Franco got snubbed for The Disaster Artist, seeing as I thought he was the man to beat, but I have since regrouped, and now I have my Oscar predictions ready to go!

Here are my predictions:

Best Picture:

The Best Picture category is stuffed with strong contenders this year, but I've managed to narrow my prediction down to just two films: Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Each one of them took home a Golden Globe, Lady Bird for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for Best Picture - Drama, but if my Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor predictions prove to be right, I think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will be the overall winner.

Winner Prediction: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Actor:

James Franco was an easy pick for this category, but since he's out, my pick got even easier! Gary Oldman swept up a Golden Globe (Best Actor - Drama) and a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for his transformative portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, and unless something goes
haywire, he's sure to get an Oscar, too.

Winner Prediction: Gary Oldman

Best Actress:

There's really no surprise here. Francis McDormand has snatched the Golden Globe (Best Actress - Drama) and SAG award away from her contenders with ease, and even though Meryl Streep is still clinging on to hope, there really is no contest.

Winner Prediction: Francis McDormand

Best Supporting Actor:

No surprises here, either. Sam Rockwell is the man to beat, and thanks to his Golden Globe and SAG award win, he seems pretty unbeatable.

Winner Prediction: Sam Rockwell

Best Supporting Actress:

Surprise! Oh wait, there's no surprise here, either. Allison Janney's comedic take on Tonya Harding's allegedly abusive mother in I, Tonya has already secured her a Golden Globe and a SAG award, and it will soon garner her an Oscar. I'm rooting for Laurie Metcalf, though, for Lady Bird.

Winner Prediction: Allison Janney

Best Director:

Now this is where things get a little complicated. Unlike the Golden Globes, the Academy nominated Greta Gerwig for her directorial debut, Lady Bird, which has been universally praised, and has been touted as the best-rated film in history on the aggregate film review site Rotten Tomatoes. At the Golden Globes, Guillermo del Toro waltzed away with the award with ease for The Shape of Water, but now that Gerwig is officially in the running, I think his chances of winning have narrowed. However, in the end, I think del Toro will end up walking away with the award.

Winner Prediction: Guillermo del Toro

Best Animated Film:

Disney/Pixar's Coco seems like a winner (it won a Golden Globe), but the totally unique Loving Vincent might just overtake it. Might.

Winner Prediction: Coco

So, will I be right? Or will I be totally wrong? We won't know until March 4th!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What's Popular at Franklin County Library?

What are your fellow Franklin County Library patrons enjoying right now?  Following are
the five most popular items in their category for the last two months.

Best Sellers:

Year One, by Nora Roberts
Typhoon Fury, by Clive Cussler
The People vs. Alex Cross, by James Patterson
The Story of Arthur Truluv, by Elizabeth Berg
The Rooster Bar, by John Grisham

The Vault:

Prodigy, by Marie Lu
The Knowing, by Sharon Cameron
The Heir, by Kiera Cass
Ghosts of Greenglass House, by Kate Milford
An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
The Secret Scripture
Despicable Me 3
The Mummy


Tasty Latest and Greatest, by Tasty
Stories of Saltillo, by Thomas J. Minter
The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  Come and Get It!, by Ree Drummond
The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  Recipes from an Accidental Ranch Wife, by Ree Drummond
Lost to Time: Unforgettable Stories that History Forgot, by Martin Sandler

Inspirational Fiction:

The Wedding Shop, by Rachel Hauck
Waves of Mercy, by Lynn Austin
War Room, by Chris Fabry
Second Touch, by Bodie and Brock Thoene
A Reluctant Bride, by Kathleen Fuller

Paperback Fiction:

The Lost Husband, by Katherine Center
Savage Run, by C.J. Box
Wyoming Brave, by Diana Palmer
The Woods, by Harlan Coben
Whiter Than Snow, by Sandra Dallas

Friday, January 19, 2018

Julie's Journal : The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists has been generating a lot of buzz in the literary world.  It was featured on the front cover of this month's BookPage and reviews call it "wise" and "luminous" and a "sweeping family saga."  The premise is intriguing.  The scene is New York City, 1969.  Four siblings, ages 13 and under, visit a psychic who claims to be able to see the dates of death of her visitors.  The book promises to examine how the knowledge of their death date affects the lives of all the children.

After the prophecy, we get each sibling's story individually.  Simon, the youngest, has been told a very early death date.  Because of this, he leaves his family at 16 to go to San Francisco and immerse himself in the gay culture of the early 80's.  Klara goes to San Francisco with Simon and becomes the illusionist she always wanted to be.  She becomes more successful when she meets her husband/partner and he begins helping her recreate elaborate illusions her grandmother performed.  However, she can't escape her own demons.  Daniel becomes a military doctor, but becomes obsessed with the fortune teller who foretold their deaths and his pursuit of her leads to tragedy.  Varya, who is told that she will live to be 88, becomes a scientist and researcher.  She uses animals to test theories about longevity.   

I was intrigued by the premise of The Immortalists, but very disappointed in the actual book.  Questions are raised about whether or not the death dates are set in stone or whether the knowledge of the dates leads the children to make decisions that lead them to die on those particular days.  This was the idea that drew me to the book, but it seemed to be an afterthought with the author.  There is no conclusion drawn about if their lives would have been different or better had they not known their death dates.  Also, the siblings' stories are all very dark.  There was nothing hopeful about this book.  None of them lived pleasant, enjoyable lives.  Even towards the end, in Varya's story, we only get a small glimmer of hope, but it is not enough to offset the darkness of the book.  I was turned off by the graphic sexual scenes in this book as well.  I nearly walked away from it during Simon's story due to the unnecessarily graphic scenes.  It gets better after that, but there are still jarring sexual moments in the book that do not serve any purpose.  I wonder why modern writers believe that they have to saturate their books in sexuality to be taken seriously. 

All in all, I did not enjoy The Immortalists, and I cannot recommend it. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Tom's Two Cents : The Crown

Conceived and written by Peter Morgan Seasons 1 and 2, Netflix Television

For those of you who might not know (who would that be?), the Netflix television production of “The Crown” began its second season on December 8, and the entire season of ten episodes is now available, along with the first season, the two covering roughly the first two decades of the reign of Britain’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.  The projected six seasons will present the years of the longest reigning monarch in British history.  The Queen is now in her nineties, and Prince Phillip is 97.  This season concentrates heavily on their complicated and at times unraveling relationship, as it almost falls apart in Episode One and somehow reassembles itself with the birth of their youngest child, Edward, in 1964, in Episode Ten.

How do the two seasons compare?  In my opinion, Season One was almost flawless in its conception, writing, acting, directing and production values.  If Season Two is less so, there are explanations for it.  The main problem, it seems to me, is trying to fill the huge gap left by the death of Prime Minister Churchill, a historical figure certainly bigger than life, and as portrayed by actor John Lithgow, enormously bigger.  If Churchill and the aftermath of World War II do not dominate the first season, they deeply enrich it, as does the dynamic between the Prime Minister and his young and not fully mature Queen.  The prime ministers of Season Two, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan, though well played, are insipid, spineless characters, compared to Churchill.  Perhaps because of this, we do see Elizabeth growing in security and strength during Season Two, as she wrestles with her role in international politics, despite her limited authority.

This Season focuses heavily on marital relations and the very sticky subject of adultery: in a sort of brilliant present/forward/backward display of the long term disastrous effects of infidelity and divorce upon the marital relationship, the Season treats not only Elizabeth and Phillip’s problems, but his Secretary’s, Princess Margaret’s forthcoming ones with the fast- living photographer, Antony Armstrong-Jones, and a backward look at the long-term ramifications of the Duke of Windsor’s marriage to a divorced woman.  Even the Jack/Jackie Kennedy relationship absorbs one episode, though, in my opinion, not very successfully.

The acting of the first two seasons, especially that of Clare Foy as Elizabeth, Matt Smith as Phillip, Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, and the aforementioned John Lithgow in Season One, has been uniformly superb, and we look forward with some trepidation to an entire change of cast next season.  Why the creator, Peter Morgan, chose to go with different actors and actresses instead of using makeup to age them, especially in this genius age of makeup, remains, at this point, a mystery.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Julie's Journal : My Life in Books

I copied this idea from another blog - @RoofBeamReader.  The goal is to answer the prompts with books you read this year.  These aren't necessarily my favorite reads of the year, just the ones that I could make fit.

In high school I was: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Mindy Kaling)

People might by surprised (by): What She Knew (Gilly MacMillan)

I will never be: The Duchess (Danielle Steel)

My fantasy job is: The Paper Magician (Charlie N. Holmberg)

At the end of a long day I need: Roses (Leila Meacham)

I hate it when: And Then You’re Dead (Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty)

Wish I had: The Rose Garden (Susanna Kearsley)

My family reunions are: Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver)

At a party you’d find me with: Only the Lucky (Linda Castillo)

I’ve never been to (an): Island of Glass (Nora Roberts)

A happy day includes: God’s Gift (Dee Henderson)

Motto I live by: Get Well Soon (Jennifer Wright)

On my bucket list is: The Book Jumper (Mechthild Glaser)

In my next life, I want to have: The Never Ending Story (Michael Ende)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Coding/Robotics - Ozobots

We finished up our very first coding class yesterday!  Every Wednesday this fall our class has met and learned how to program Ozobots.
The tiny robots lend themselves well to learning to code, using a block style of coding.  We've been remiss at taking pictures because our classes went so fast.  There was just so much to learn!  

We had our end of class party yesterday.  The Friends of the Library rewarded the class with Ozobots of their very own!

The kids were thrilled, of course, and wanted to know what was coming next.  Well....  we're going to be learning to create computer games using Scratch!

Scratch is a free programming language from MIT and is perfect for furthering our coding education.  We will be working on getting together projects for the class from now until January 24th, when classes start again. 

Our plan for the spring is to have two classes.  Jason Baxter, Julie's husband and a fifth grade teacher, will be teaching the Ozobots class.  It is open to any student over 8 years old with an interest in coding.  Please sign up soon as spaces are limited.

Julie will be teaching the Scratch class, which also has a few spots available to students over 8 who have a little bit of prior coding experience.  Spaces are very limited in this class as well, so be sure to sign up soon.  

We hope that Mr. and Mrs. Dunn will again be available to help.  Both classes will be on Wednesday afternoons at 4:00 and last about 45 minutes.  Classes begin January 24th!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tom's Two Cents: Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

The publication of a new and substantive biography of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson has coincided with the sale at Christie's Auction House this week of the only Leonardo still in a private collection for $450 million--yes, that's $450 million--the highest price ever paid for a painting at auction.  The painting is "Salvator Mundi," (Fig. 83 in the book), a painting of Christ as Savior of the World.  Its authenticity has been questioned by some experts, but the fact is that, as far as we know, there are only fifteen known Leonardo paintings in the world and this is the only one not in a museum.  So it's not so much a question of Leonardo being the greatest painter of all time as it is the rarity of his artistic work.  Leonardo was a universal genius, so far ahead of his time that painting was, for him, almost an incidental skill.

Isaacson's biography, therefore, concentrates not just on Leonardo's art, but on the complexity of his mind and the fields of endeavor that he explored, especially in science and anatomy. In fact, in virtually all his biographies (he is a professor of history at Tulane University) Isaacson's principal area of interest is the nature of genius--hence his books on such widely diverse men as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Steve Jobs.  Although his subject matter is heavy, Isaacson's approach to his subject is essentially light--a kind of populist biography, if you will.  I'm not suggesting that it reads like a novel, yet it certainly is true that Leonardo's life and times were anything but dull, and so Isaacson presents them.

This is one heavy book, and I mean that quite literally.  At 524 pages with high quality paper and superb illustrations, it will not rest comfortably in your lap or be held in your hands--so look for something stable to rest it on.  There are 33 chapters, many complete in themselves, and even if you choose not to read the text, flip through the book and look at the illustrations.  They are indeed a wonder.  Not for everybody, but surely not for those only interested in art, either!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chance's Corner: Justice League Review

As a film, Justice League is a hot mess. However, as a comic book film, it's pretty awesome. Comic book panels seemingly come to life with fast transitions, leaps in plot and bombastic battles during a running time of just two hours. This leaves very little room to breathe, which sounds like a complaint, but I was left more breathless than overwhelmed. Now, I'm not saying that Justice League blew my socks off. It's good. Not great. Honestly, I feel that there's a better film laying on the cutting room floor somewhere, just like there was with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Superman II. In fact, I know there's a film laying on the cutting room floor, a film that reflects director Zack Snyder's true vision. Snyder stepped away from the film after his daughter's suicide, which left the Justice League open to studio interference (the imposed two hour limit) and "screenwriter" Joss Whedon's reshoots and rewrites to "lighten-up" the overall tone. They claim that Whedon didn't change much, but his screenplay credit proves that more than 33% percent of the screenplay was altered, and it seems that nearly every scene with Superman (Henry Cavill) has been reshot - the mustache-be-gone CGI being the tell-tale sign. Also, Whedon had Snyder's usual collaborator and original composer, Junkie XL, replaced with Danny Elfman to lend Justice League a more classical score. Elfman gave me goosebumps with the nods to the John Williams' 1978 Superman score and Elfman's own 1989 Batman score, but there's not a lot to rave about beyond that. So, is there a Zack Snyder Cut in store for us in the near future? I sure hope so.

Justice League's main problem lies in its lack of depth. I was particularly concerned with how the Justice League haphazardly came together and the big baddie Steppenwolf's motivation. Who even is Steppenwolf? I have no idea, other than he's the nephew of the king of all evil, Darkseid. It took a Google search to find that out. Out of all the villains I've seen so far in the DC Extended Universe, Steppenwolf is definitely the least fleshed out. As for the Justice League itself, some characters are more developed than others. The real MVP is The Flash (Ezra Miller). He's like a kid in a candy store, and he has some truly great moments, like when he realizes Superman can keep up with his super speed. Out of all the Whedon jokes cracked, The Flash's land the most. As for the other teammates, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is kind of just there - essentially eye candy. I was really surprised by the importance of Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to the team. If I expected anyone to be glossed over, it would have been him. The already established characters, Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Superman, add welcome familiarity to the host of fresh faces.

Overall, Justice League feels more like a setup for things to come, rather than a complete film, which is easy to understand knowing that this was originally conceived as a two-parter. If you're wondering what is to come, be sure to stay and feast your eyes on the post-credits sequence!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Julie's Journal : What I've Been Reading

Yesterday, I finished The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware.  I have read both of Ms. Ware's two previous books, In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10.  Of the three, I enjoyed The Woman in Cabin 10 the most.  In the psychological suspense genre, I expect a little more suspense than I got in The Lying Game.  Isa is a new mother and a civil service lawyer.  She lives in London with her partner, Owen and their child.  One day, in the middle of the night, she receives a cryptic three word text - "I need you".  It is from her childhood friend, Kate.  She immediately packs up her baby and heads for Salten, where she had gone to boarding school for one brief summer the year she was 15.  At Kate's home, she is reunited with their two other boarding school friends, Thea and Fatima.  They have supposedly come back for their 15 year reunion dinner, but in fact a body has been found.  They must figure out what their story will be about the night Kate's father disappeared.  The suspense in this book has to do more with the why's of the events rather than the events themselves.  I felt like too much was revealed too soon, and the suspense never had a chance to build.  I never felt like I was hanging onto the edge of my seat.

Another recent read, Emma in the Night, by Wendy Walker, was a more satisfying psychological suspense book.  Three years ago, Emma and her sister, Cass, disappeared.  Emma's car was found along the shore, along with a pair of her shoes.  The only trace of Cass was a single hair in the car.  The authorities never discovered what happened to them.  Now, only Cass has returned.  She begins telling a story of an island and a home with a couple who advertised that they "help" teenage runaways.  Her constant refrain to authorities is "Find Emma; you must find Emma."  We also get Cass and Emma's backstory.  We learn of their very dysfunctional childhood.  Their mother is narcissistic and after their parents divorce, life with their new stepfather and brother is anything but idyllic.  I enjoyed the way the past and present were woven together to give the reader a full picture of what happened. 

Do you watch Homicide Hunter on the ID channel?  Joe Kenda is a retired detective from Colorado Springs, and tells the stories of his most interesting cases.  His book, I Will Find You, gives details about his life, how he became a homicide detective, and the toll working on murder cases for over 20 years took on him.  He gives additional details about some of the stories that have aired on Homicide Hunter as well as telling new ones.  The book is full of his trademark dry, somewhat morbid, sense of humor.  I enjoyed this book, but be aware that it contains very bad language, and graphic details from crime scenes.

After finishing The Lying Game yesterday, I picked up The October List by Jeffrey Deaver.  I am reading it based on the recommendation of Reavis Wortham during his author visit last Tuesday.  The books is written completely backwards. It opens with the climactic chapter.  Gabrielle is sitting in an apartment waiting to find out if her daughter Sarah is safe.  Sarah was kidnapped about two days before and a ransom is being paid.  Each chapter goes back in time anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.  We see several different view points and begin to put together the events that have led up to the final moment.  I am about halfway through this quick read, and beginning to wonder if any part of what I think I know about Gabrielle, Sarah, and the people helping them is correct.  Mr. Wortham said that as soon as he finished the book, he reread it, this time looking for clues as to the outcome he knew was there.  He says it is a masterful book.  I am trying hard not to succumb to temptation and read the last (first?) chapter early. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Poet's Perch : Solitude by Alexander Pope


Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breath his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose tress in summer yield him shade,
In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind;
Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mixed, sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Alexander Pope

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tom's Two Cents : Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, by Julie Andrews

One of the special joys of going to the library is finding books you don't know about: one such this past month was a Julie Andrews memoir of her "early years," those being from birth to about the age of 25.  Hard as it may be to believe, Andrews starred on Broadway in "My Fair Lady" when she was only 21, with already another Broadway success, "The Boy Friend," behind her at 18.  She went on very quickly to achieve another, "Camelot," with the great actor Richard Burton, then to become an Academy Award winner and household name in Walt Disney's "Mary Poppins" by the time she was 25.  Whew!  Did success spoil Julie Andrews?  The answer to that is a whopping NO!   Ultimately she went on to create what was perhaps the most memorable role of her film career, Maria in "The Sound of Music."

Not surprising to read that Julie Andrews came from a family performance tradition. Both her mother, a seasoned and very talented pianist, and her aunt, a dancer and dance teacher, as well as her stepfather, a singer from Canada, contributed to her early life on the stage.  By the time she was five, she was totally comfortable there and in the process of developing a clearly phenomenal voice that went up to a high-F.  (If you don't know how high this is, try it sometime!). Even before her teens she was singing the famous "Polonaise" from "Mignon".  (Listen to it on Youtube and prepare to be astounded.)  If she lacked anything by the time of creating Eliza Doolittle, it was only a Cockney accent, which she had to learn, and a certain insecurity in her acting, which she credits Alan J. Learner himself for helping her to overcome.

This memoir takes Andrews through her rise to stardom and ends with her arrival in Hollywood with first husband Tony Walton and baby daughter Emma, to take on the role of Mary Poppins in the film that brought her fame and a much wider audience than those brilliant Broadway musicals ever would have.  The memoir is at its most interesting, however, when it tells the story of the development of those Learner and Loewe musicals that made history, even as Rogers and Hammerstein had done two decades earlier.  The team of L&L, along with their great director, Moss Hart, is truly the stuff of Broadway legend, and Julie Andrews was there in the thick of all of it.  Her movie career, her late loss of her voice, and her career as a children's author with her daughter, Emma, is the stuff of yet another story.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Two Tired Librarians

You are looking at a picture of two exhausted librarians.  Lisa and Julie spent all day today unloading shelves of books upstairs.  Today was the first step to the fulfillment of the grant we received to replace all of the shelving upstairs as well as some of the other furniture.  When we got to work this morning, the main room upstairs looked like this:

By the end of the day, the main room upstairs looks like this:

And the end room is now FULL of books:

Now, on to step two - having the old shelving removed and the carpet cleaned in preparation for the new shelving's arrival.  Be sure to make note of our adjusted hours for the next couple of weeks as we work to complete this project.  Hours are posted on Facebook and on our front door.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Chance's Corner: Stranger Things

You better prepare yourself because things are about to get really, really strange at the Franklin County Library! Yes, that's right, THE hottest television/streaming show of 2016, Stranger Things, has finally made its way to DVD.

Set in late 1983, Stranger Things takes place in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, where a young boy, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), goes missing. His mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), is desperate to find him, but she isn't taken very seriously by Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) or anyone in town because she has "a past". Her running around with an ax and claiming her son is trying to communicate with her through Christmas lights doesn't really help her case. While her boy is missing, another child is found roaming in the nearby woods, a girl known only as Eleven (Millie Boddy Brown). Eleven can do things - things with her mind - and for some reason, the people at the nearby U.S. Department of Energy laboratory are itching to get their hands on her. Oh yeah, the "Department of Energy" also might of let a creature from another dimension (The Upside Down) loose. It's just another normal day in Hawkins!

Stranger Things is a blast from the past - a perfect mixture of nostalgia, Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment films, e.g. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Goonies, Poltergeist, and a combination of numerous other horror/science fiction flicks of the '80s. The score is a synthy dreamscape of whimsy and danger, and is unlike anything you've heard since the '70s and '80s. Well, unless you've seen recent horror films Starry Eyes and It Follows, but for a television show, it's still phenomenal and original. While Stranger Things certainly has moments that might make you consider leaving the lights on while you sleep, it's not too overbearing in its scares, so don't be too afraid to give it a try.

Be prepared to enter The Upside Down, because Stranger Things: Season 1 is now available for check out!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tom's Two Cents : A Farewell to Hemingway

In the past five years or so, I've re-read most of Ernest Hemingway's major work, and I'm very sorry to say (especially in print!) that I don't think it's standing the test of time very well.  Of course I'm aware that artists, musicians, and writers, great ones, go in and out of fashion: a hundred years ago some museums had their Rembrandts stored in the basement. In his own children's time, or shortly thereafter, Bach all but disappeared from the classical repertory; and now certain so-called "great" writers are being re-evaluated.  Fitzgerald, for example, did not receive great recognition in his own time. Now "Gatsby" at any rate is up there with the best of them.

I'm one of those who, in the 50's, grew up under the spell of Hemingway's style and tried for much of my limited writing career to emulate him.  Of course I was never a Hemingway man: I didn't hunt or fish or run with the bulls in Pamplona or go on African safari, but I suppose I bought into the Hem legend of being (or wanting to be) a "Hemingway Man."  The Hem Man lived fast and loose, attracted both women and men, wrote with disciplinary precision, and, perhaps most important, faced danger and death heroically and stoically.  Hemingway did all or most of these things, except tragically he did not die young.  It seems the one thing he could NOT face was old-age disability and psychic and physical impotence.  If he had died in war or been gored by a bull or torn apart by an African lion, his death would have doubtless been considered heroic.  Instead, he put a shotgun in his mouth and killed himself.

Nonetheless, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in the 50's, principally for his then-considered powerful style and his late novella, "The Old Man and the Sea."  Neither of these is greatly admired today.  Hemingway's machismo persona comes across as rather comical, and his lean, journalistic style has been so often imitated and parodied that today it seems clich├ęd. 

What is left?  Maybe "A Moveable Feast," Hemingway's recollections of Paris in the 20's, which I do remember reading fairly recently with great respect.  As to the three great novels, "The Sun Also Rises," "A Farewell to Arms," and "For Whom the Bell Tolls," I leave it for future generations to decide.  Hard to believe that his earliest work is now approaching its 100th anniversary!