Sam Hawken Posts

Ernest HemingwayToday marks what would be the 119th birthday of the master wordsmith, and Nobel Prize-winner, Ernest Hemingway.  I am a longtime devotee of the man who asked his friends to call him “Papa,” though he has fallen distressingly out of favor in recent years.  Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the general decay of reading culture in the United States, or perhaps it’s what appears to be a lessening emphasis on the foundational literature of my country in the nation’s schools, but it is a tragedy nonetheless.

Whatever you happen to be reading right now, I’d like to invite you to pick up something by Hemingway when it’s time to read something new. Whether you’ve read his work before, or not, it’s likely you’ll discover something new in his words.  Though I have read and reread Hemingway‘s writing many times over the decades, I still learn something every time I return to him.

I will leave you with the opening sentences of Hemingway’s most familiar classic, A Farewell to Arms (link).  I think you’ll find it enough to draw you into the larger work.

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.

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Reading

Freewrite, by AstrohausA writer needs good tools.  There’s no two ways about it.  Some can be quite simple: a good desk, a comfortable chair… that sort of thing.  It gets more complicated when it comes to writing instruments, because questions proliferate.  Do you like to work longhand, or with a keyboard?  Do you like notebooks or journals?  Do you prefer a laptop?  And setting has a bearing on this, depending on where and how and when you prefer to work.

For some years I used a MacBook Pro, and I was perfectly happy with it.  Eventually I switched to the iMac I currently use, though I liked the freedom of movement afforded by the MacBook.  However, here’s the thing: I don’t really need a backup machine so much as I need a well-designed and portable writing platform.  The barer-bones MacBooks are attractive, but they’re too small for my hands, and even then they’re really more device than I require.

I looked at Chromebooks, which people seem to like.  I wasn’t impressed.  They’re okay, and I suppose it would be all right to use one, but I’m not one hundred percent thrilled with the experience I had when testing them out.  I started seriously looking for a vintage Royal Quiet De Luxe, because all I really, really need is something for recording text.

But then I found Freewrite, and got curious.

Writing

The Night Charter, by Sam HawkenOne of the things I feel it’s important to keep in mind when reading the Camaro Espinoza novels is that Camaro is not, and never has been, a covergirl.  I worry it’s an assumption made by readers and critics alike that Camaro is meant to be this sort of “karate hottie,” as Hollywood would likely make her.  She’s not unattractive, but she isn’t some model-pretty honey bouncing around an action thriller.  Camaro is a fighter — no, she’s a warrior — and she looks it.

This was addressed in The Night Charter (link), but overlooked by critics.  I do a more explicit job of it in Make Them Sorry (link).  Camaro is referred to as beautiful in a couple of The Night Charter‘s reviews, but bear in mind that the only time someone refers to her as being “hot,” is when Matt Clifford, the main antagonist of the book, says so.  This man is a murderer, extortionist, kidnapper, and possibly a child molester.  This is not somebody whose judgment can be relied upon.  Don’t put yourself in Matt‘s corner.  Please.

There’s too much emphasis placed on beauty in books, movies and television.  Beauty is considered an outward indicator of virtue, much like ugliness is a sign of villainy.  But Camaro is an athlete and a warfighter, and she should be held to those standards, not those of a pageant queen.

Be sure to get your copy of Make Them Sorry, the latest Camaro Espinoza thriller, available for purchase at your favorite bookseller on August 7th. (link)

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Camaro