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Meeting of Faulkner-Hemingway Relatives Flops

March 9, 1993

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Any meeting between descendants of Nobel Prize winners Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner to end a rift between their famous relatives may have to be in the heart of fictional Yoknapatawpha County.

Jack Hemingway, Hemingway’s son, and Dean Faulkner Wells, a niece of Faulkner’s, had planned to make peace in Los Angeles, where they were to be guest judges for the 13th International Imitation Hemingway Competition.

Wells showed, along with writers Ray Bradbury and George Plimpton. Hemingway didn’t.

″It makes you wonder if there’s not something cosmic in the air to keep the Hemingways and the Faulkners apart and putting that old trouble to rest,″ said Doug Crichton, editor of American Way magazine, the in-flight publication of American Airlines.

The ″old trouble″ dates back to the mid-1950s when Faulkner told a University of Mississippi writing class that Hemingway was afraid to take chances in his fiction. By the time it got in print, Faulkner was quoted as saying Hemingway had a yellow streak when it came to danger.

Crichton said Tuesday that flight scheduling problems in getting Hemingway from his Sun Valley, Idaho, home to Los Angeles had prevented the much- publicized meeting Monday.

″I was stood up royally,″ Wells said as she and her husband prepared for a return flight from Los Angeles to their home in Oxford, Miss., where Faulkner created the characters of Yoknapatawpha County. ″I really don’t think there’s a problem, at least on my part.″

″We understand Jack has promised to come to Oxford for the Faux Faulkner contest in August,″ Wells said. ″I’ll see him then, the elusive Jack Hemingway.″

″Jack’s still very anxious to meet Dean and it looks like they’re finally going to get together in Oxford,″ said Crichton, who has spearheaded efforts to get the two families together.

The Faulkner and Hemingway contests are similar, with contestants making a lighthearted attempt to parody the novelists’ styles.

The work chosen Monday at the 13th International Imitation Hemingway Competition was ″Death in the Happy Hour,″ by New Yorker Owen McKevitt.

″A man should die standing up. Lester did not stand up. He died in his chair drinking a pina colada,″ begins McKevitt’s entry. ″There were women at the table. A man should not die drinking a pina colada at a table with women.″

McKevitt won two round-trip tickets to Italy and dinner at a Hemingway favorite, Harry’s Bar & American Grill in Florence.

To copy Hemingway’s style, McKevitt said he first wrote a series of short, crisp sentences and then added in ″long, and, and, and, and, sentences that bludgeon you to death by the time you get to the end.″

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