The Monday Muse: The Genius and His Cats

Happy Monday, lovely readers! I’ve just returned from the beautiful, sunny sands of Key West where – among other things – I visited the home of Ernest Hemingway. Yes, Ernest Hemingway! The man, the master, the mystery. He lived in Key West in his late twenties where he produced 70 percent of his work and participated in sport fishing and general debauchery.

Hemingway was a Nobel Prize winning, booze swilling, big game hunting, best-seller writing author and if you didn’t know that now you do. Important stuff, people. In the course of his life he published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additional works, including three novels and four short story collections were published posthumously. Some of his most famous works include The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea. His understated style of writing avoided focusing on character details and allowing the action to drive the story. His writing heavily influenced the evolution of writing in the 20th century and much of his work is considered part of the canon of American classics.

Now, even if you aren’t a fan of his work you have got to appreciate the beauty of his home, his work space, and his six-toed cats. Yes, six-toed cats! Hemingway’s six-toed cat Snowball had quite a litter and her descendants continue to roam the grounds with their adorable genetic mutation (which was considered a good luck charm by sailors). There are over 30 Snowball descendants roaming the grounds today. Here’s a picture I snapped of Duke Ellington. Look at his big extra toe! Adorable.

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The house on Whitehead Street is a two-storied beauty that was built in 1850. It’s got a wrap-around porch, a giant swimming pool, and possibly the coolest designated writing space ever. Hemingway’s writing loft was in a separate building from the main house connected by a catwalk on the second floor. It’s a gorgeous space, with windows on all sides, allowing for great lighting and great views.

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I don’t go to the Keys very often, but when I do I make it a point to stop by the Hemingway Home. It’s so well preserved and has such a wonderful energy that you come away feeling that you truly knew the man. Hemingway was a writer of discipline who meticulously planned his writing schedule and took inspiration from a life of travel, adventure, and beauty in the face of life’s many sorrows. The history of the building, the man, and the cats all just go to show that Hemingway – a man filled with dozens of stories – was living in a story his legacy would leave behind. A story to explore rather than read.

So if you’re ever in Key West I highly recommend stopping by and soaking up the mood. Oh, and his favorite bars (Sloppy Joe’s and The Green Parrot) are still just down the street.

See you next week!!!

-A

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