THIS is a story about Ernest Hemingway and his boat, the Pilar. He got the boat when he was 35 – fit, handsome and at the top of his game. He was living in Cuba. He owned the boat for 27 years.
Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson
(Vintage, £9.99) * * * *
As Hendrickson memorably says, he did all sorts of things on this boat – fished, drank, wrote, propositioned women, even shot himself. In the legs, that is. By accident. Hendrickson gives us that story, and the moment when, at the age of 61, Hemingway woke up early one morning and shot himself. In the head. On purpose. Some tale. Very well told.
Target London by Christy Campbell
(Abacus, £9.99) * * * *
June 1944. A strange object is spotted by the crew of a torpedo boat. It’s flying across the Channel. It looks like a flame shooting across the sky. It’s flying at 1,500ft and going at around 250mph. Soon it’s spotted by observers on the Kent coast. Seven minutes after that, people in Gravesend see it, now lower in the sky. Bang! It explodes in a field next to the A2. This is the first V1 rocket or “flying bomb”, one of Hitler’s “vengeance weapons”. Hundreds followed, bringing death, injury and mayhem. There’s a superb account of the codebreakers at Bletchley and the aerial-photograph analysts at Medmenham. This excellent book captures it all.
The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler
(Vintage, £7.99) * * * *
Aaron is a tall publisher from Baltimore. He walks with a limp. He’s married to Dorothy. She’s short, and a doctor. When they hug, he says, they hit each other in the wrong places. Maybe that should be “hugged”, because Dorothy is dead. One day, after they had a row, Dorothy went outside and was crushed by a falling tree. But then Dorothy comes back to visit Aaron. Or perhaps to haunt him. She seems to be her usual self: that is, someone who bickers with him. A lovely, stylish way to write a novel about a marriage.
Watch You Die by Katia Lief
(Ebury, £6.99) * * *
DARCY is a 39-year-old reporter on the New York Times. Her husband: dead. Her son: teenage. Her romantic life: zero. She’s still in shock, remembering the night she was making dinner for her husband when the police rang to tell her he’d driven his car off the road. One day the kid from the mailroom introduces himself. He asks her to lunch. He’s 23. They have a sandwich in the park. Something about this kid seems not quite right. Then he starts to stalk her. Very fast, very slick, and very creepy.