[After a bad night, I often take several naps throughout the day, at unpredictable intervals,and otherwise read or occasionally even do some work.]
F: 3:35 p.m. Papa? Want to try it again?
EH: We can try.
Now, you know that To Have and Have Not was going to be my novel of revolution, with all my complicated reactions to the idea, for it is a complicated subject except to those people who can never see more than one side of anything.
I had the setting. I knew enough about the keys and the Conchs and about Cuba and the Cubans. I had my central character when I got Harry Morgan, because he was a slab-hard Conch, not romanticized and not simplified either. I had the genesis of the story – what it might have been built from – in the idea of Cuban revolutionaries who might want to get dynamite to blow up a bridge at a crucial moment in an uprising. I had to give up that idea, but that just helped me concentrate on Harry Morgan. I had ideas how to escape the limitations of first-person narrative.
What I needed was peace and quiet, and routine, and time to work. Peace and quiet were getting in shorter supply by this time. Pauline and I had survived the safari together – that’s a lot of togetherness! – but I was restless and starting to feel hemmed in.
F: Bad pun.
EH: Yes, well, sue me. It was harder and harder to stay together, for various reasons. Coitus interruptus didn’t help. It sort of distances you, you know, at a time when you ought to be closest – but we didn’t want her getting pregnant again, and she didn’t feel justified in using birth control. And there were the kids. We had a woman to help us, but kids – young kids – are disruptive, they can’t help it. And, there was the kind of second thoughts that come to you after it’s way too late to undo what you’ve done. You can imagine where my resentment went.
F: But she was still your best editor.
EH: She was, but this was beginning to cut too close to the bone. She didn’t necessarily want me writing about the people we knew in Key West – it would be different from writing about a few people in our circle [when we were living] in Paris. Key West was small, and she had dug herself in nicely, and she didn’t want me rocking the boat.
And then there was society, or class, whichever way you want to see it. And Spain and the church. And then Spain and the reports of Communists. And then to top it all, here came Martha. How was I supposed to write a coherent novel in the middle of all that small-arms fire on the home front?
F: We’re going to need that paragraph unpacked.
EH: Of course. But you can’t keep your eyes open. Take another nap.
F: I believe I will. Later.