A previously unpublished Ernest Hemingway story will be released this weekend for the first time. “A Room on the Garden Side,” published in the mystery magazine The Strand, is a brief glimpse at life in wartime.
The story, written around 1956, doesn’t stray far from Hemingway’s métier: The narrator, Papa, also Hemingway’s real-life nickname, is an American soldier in Paris who glugs champagne and reads Baudelaire. There’s not a lot in the way of exposition. The reader gleans through Hemingway’s signature staccato dialogue that the men are drinking at the Ritz after the liberation of Paris, placing the story in late August 1944.
The narrator and his compatriots drink as they muse about feeling displaced in Europe’s war. They are a grimy ragtag group, seemingly out of their element, who’s taken over the Ritz. “He does not look at us because we are ill-mannered, badly disciplined Americans engaged in work befitting garage mechanics,” says the narrator, about a well dressed colonel.
The brief portrait blends fiction and autobiography and provides a picture of Hemingway’s own life as a wandering American who’s found grounding, for now, in another country and in the chaos of war itself.
“There were those sound moral reasons,” says the narrator for why he was motivated to fight, “And there was the one you cannot tell[,] which was that we liked it.”