One of the things I enjoy about using Archive.org is that I can have access to a book for free. And, after several pages, if I find that I don’t like the book, I just stop reading it and go on to another book as my list is very long and it’s pointless to spend time on something that doesn’t interest me. Or, as Marie Kondo would say, doesn’t spark joy. One such book was that of Travels with Myself and Another by Martha Gellhorn. I read about Martha several years ago and was intrigued by her personality. However, she was primarily a war correspondent and reading about war makes me uncomfortable. But there were some sparks of joy in what little I read. For example, she referred to Ernest Hemingway (at the time her husband) as U.C.—Unwilling Companion. Although U.C. enjoyed lighting firecrackers in the bedroom, apparently that was the only kind of joy he could spark there. Martha said that her “whole memory of sex with Ernest is the invention of excuses, and failing that, the hope that it would soon be over.” Moral of the story: being a successful writer doesn’t mean you’re good in bed. (And, most of all, drinking too much booze makes you a lousy lover.)
Martha was born in St. Louis, a town she wanted to escape from. And, as for many other travellers, it’s probably that need to leave a place that inspired her to travel.
Three things I learned from Martha: (1) Experience is useless without memory. (2) Endurance is the secret Chinese weapon. (3) No matter how successful a woman is, she will always be in the shadow of a man. Martha resented the fact that, after her involvement with Hemingway, she was often treated as “a footnote in someone else’s life” despite the fact that she was an avant-garde war correspondent way before meeting Ernie.
At the age of 89 and in bad health, Martha committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule.
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