The State of Ernest Hemingway’s House

Last December, Irish noir thriller writer Adrian McKinty went to Cuba and visited Ernest Hemingway’s house. The experience, as he wrote about in the Times earlier this week, was rather strange:

The secret policeman wasn’t smiling. It just looked like that because his

false teeth didn’t fit correctly. I was relieved. If Russian writer Isaac

Babel is to be believed it’s when secret policeman start grinning at you

that you should begin to worry.

“Think about it,” he said as he ran his fingernails along the right lapel of a

navy double breasted blazer that was miles too big for him. His eyes were

dark and squinty and his skin yellowy white. He was small, grey haired and

not terribly menacing.

“I’m sorry?” I said, unsure that I had heard him correctly.

He repeated his offer. “Any book in Hemingway’s library for two hundred

dollars,” he said in carefully enunciated English.

Read on for what happened next. It’s a riveting piece of narrative and makes me feel sad for the state of Hemingway’s library and for a culture that does not really comprehend what one notable foreign resident left behind.