I first read Hemingway at college in 1978, an intro course called Modern Existential Literature. The Old Man and the Sea was like looking at an x‑ray to see how we are put together. The Sun Also Rises was a look at how we fall apart. It was also a siren’s call: “This way, follow me.”
In spring 1980, I had five hundred bucks, a Eurail Pass and a backpack, and two months in which to see as much of Europe as I could. From Paris, following the characters from Sun, the train took me as far as Bayonne and from there it was thumb out. An old man named Jesus picked me up in a white car and drove me up the mountain to Pamplona. As a boy during the San Fermin festival, he had shaken Hemingway’s hand. When I got out of the car and he shook my hand, I was convinced if not a torch at least a spark had been passed.