Erstwhile Muse

May 21, 2007

Eng 251 - External Journal Entry #5

If you could pit any two American authors against each other in a back alley brawl, who would they be and who would win?

I actually had a good bit of difficulty with this one, partly because a lot of the authors I read tend be from countries other than the United States, but mostly because it took me awhile to come up with a pairing that wasn't blatantly obvious. I even discussed it a bit with Lee this weekend while stopping by to taste some of his latest batch of bitter—which was quite tasty by the way—and he came to the same initial conclusion that I had: Poe versus Hemingway. The problem of course with that match up is that it's terribly lopsided; there's no appreciable way to describe a situation in which Poe could win without external supernatural help.

Lacking a better set of options, I struck out to the wild of Wikipedia for some inspiration to make this contest a bit more interesting than the one sided broken bottle beat down that would ensue otherwise. And for a brief time, I thought I had something that might work—who knows, I may yet use the idea for a quick short story in the near future, but not today—the reliable fall back of pulp and comic writers through the years…that's right, Nazi Paranormal Agents. Hemingway was in Paris during the liberation, all that would be needed is a suitably esoteric and well hidden cabal of Third Reich wizards, a botched ritual caused by the drunken intervention of a pleasantly pickled Papa to transport our luckless author and Reynolds (high priest of the mystic order) back to 19th century Boston, and a case of mistaken identity in a poorly lit and narrowly spaced Beantown alleyway. Don't get me wrong, Poe still ends up on the loosing end of this metaphysical happenstance, but at least it has some drama to it this way.

A far better match up though awaited me in the sidebar section of the Hemingway entry, under the section titled Influenced, listing those authors whose work was directly impacted in some way by the writings of Hemingway. Of course I thought to myself as I read it, what better match of vice and firearms than Thompson, inventor of Shotgun Golf?

Sadly in all my research I had left myself little time or space left to write, so a full head to head description will have to wait for another day. In brief, and to satisfy the requirements of the assignment at hand, I shall declare Thompson the winner of the latter contest, for three simple reasons:

  1. Thompson's Air Force service versus Hemingway's inability to join the military. The Air Force tends to attract a slightly higher intellectually capable caliber of candidate than many of the other branches of service (or so I am told); this compared with Papa's physical limitations to service give these points to Thompson.
  2. Hemingway was able to take an awful lot of physical abuse in his lifetime, but it brings up another aspect, namely his seeming attractiveness to physical harm. Ernest might be able to take a punch, but the odds seem likely that Hunter would simply be able to avoid it.
  3. On a more morbid note, Thompson wins the sudden death round, having made it to the age of 67 before greeting his shotgun in a much more personal manner than is normally intended, as opposed to Hemingway's time of 62 years. This is one time where crossing the finish line first doesn't get you the gold…



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