Hemingway's Suitcase

by MacDonald Harris. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.

From the Jacket:

In 1922 a suitcase containing almost everything that the young Ernest Hemingway had written up to that time was stolen in a train station in Paris. No trace of this suitcase or its contents has ever been discovered, despite the fact that the unpublished stories it contained would be immensely valuable.

In present-day Los Angeles, a wealthy dilettante named Nils-Frederik Glas returns from Europe and produces some tories that bear a striking resemblance to Hemingway's early work. So begins MacDonald Harris' iongenous and provocative new novel, Hemingway's Suitcase. Nils-Frederik refuses to say where the stories came from, but he announces his intention to publish them to his son, Alan, a struggling literary agent. As Alan reads the manuscripts one by one, he realizes that if they are genuine Hemingway stories, Nils-Frederik has made the literary discovery of the century. If they are not, he is a clever forgerer and the perpetrator of a possibly criminal fraud.

When Alan reluctantly agrees to help his father prepare the book for publication, he finds himself entangled in a web of intrigue and mystery, where the distinction between genuine and fraudulent is oddly blurred. It is a web spun by the cunning and duplicitous Nils-Frederik, made even more sinister by the sexual fantasies played out by his mistress, Charmian, and the bizarre private visions of Nana, his blind and aged mother. Alan's wife, Lily, looks for her truth in the stars, and even their nine-year-old daughter, Kilda, is adept at creating her own realities. Everywhere--in his convoluted relations with his father, in his curious attempts to create facsimiles of the "Hemingway" manuscripts, in his encounters with less-than-ethical academics, opportunistic publishers, and the ominous private sleuth Klipspringer--Alan is confronted by the question: What is false, what is real?

Five of the disputed Suitcase stories, all having as their hero the Nick Adams of Hemingway's early fiction, are included in this witty, cleverly plotted, and compellingly readable novel. Are they the work of Hemingway or not? Let the reader decide--as all of the characters in Alan's world must finall come to terms with the lives they have created--or merely imagined--for themselves. Hemingway's Suitcase is a fascinating exploration of the duplicities of human consciousness. But is also a story with many suspensful twists and turns--a story that will challenge the reader's imagination and his own sense of reality as it spins towards its surprising conclusion.

Critical Acclaim for Hemingway's Suitcase

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