The American Interest
Policy, Politics & Culture
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Even More Rejects
Published on August 9, 2012

The venerable publishing house Scribner recently published a new edition of Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel A Farewell to Arms, complete with all the many endings the author rejected. “I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied”, he told The Paris Review. Given a little more time, here’s 39 more that Papa might have tossed into the wastebasket.

I.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. That’s our book for tonight. You’ve been a great audience. Drive home safely.

II.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. The waiter brought me a plate of onion rings, and then everything went black.

III.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. Blah-de-blah, blah-de-blah, blah-de-blah blah blah.

IV.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I got there just in time to see the big right-hander hit a three-run homer. “The Giants win the pennant!’’ I said. “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!’’

V.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Osgood was there. “I have to level with you,’’ I told him. “I’m a man.’’ He shrugged. Nobody’s perfect, he replied.

VI.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. As if! LMFAO

VII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Lennie was waiting in the lobby. He asked me to tell him about the rabbits again. I started to, but then I shot him.

VIII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.

IX.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain, where I saw Ilsa. “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not on it, you’ll regret it”, I told her. But all she wanted to know was how this would affect us. Us? This chick is delusional. There hadn’t been an us in years. “Hey”, I told her, “We’ll always have Paris.” And she bought it!

X.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. If only there was a system of affordable health insurance in place, I kept thinking, Catherine might have had the operation that would have saved her life.

XI.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. The next time I hear somebody call this a great war, I going to knock his block off.

XII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I was thinking “You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” Then I thought, “Son, you need to treat yourself to a cappuccino.”

XIII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally is going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. There’s only one David Tutera, and he’s not me.

XIV.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Then it came to me. Soylent Green is people!

XV.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. It’s not much consolation, but at least now I know I’ll never have to turn Catherine into a vampire.

XVI.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Catherine is dead, and the Eurocrisis just keeps grinding on. Man, reading Paul Krugman just brings me down the most.

XVII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas. Or something—it was pouring!

XVIII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I wanted to nothing more than to curl up into a ball and sleep. Good thing that all the beds in the hotel have been fitted with a Sealy Posturepedic. Oh, it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

XIX.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. By then I had stopped limping. No longer did the mastermind Keyser Söze require a disguise! I wonder how long it will take that blockhead cop to catch on.

XX.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Catherine was the light of my life, and now that light has been extinguished forever. This is a loss measure. And yet, at the same time, I’m gay, and I always have been.

XXI.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. There in the lobby, I ran into Tiny Tim. “God bless Us”, the little crippled Cratchit kid said. “God bless Us, Every One.” I snatched his crutch and chased him into the alley.

XXII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. The old toothless old fisherman with the leathery skin was laughing and buying everybody Calvados. “Hola, Santiago!” I said. “Did you finally catch that fish?” “Mejor que”, he said. Better than that. “Tim Tebow es un Jet!”

XXIII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I kept trying to remember her final words. She put a rose in her hair like the Andalusian girls? I think that’s what she said, but she never liked roses. They made her sneeze. Then there was something she said about me feeling her breasts all perfume yes and my heart going like mad and yes, her saying yes I will Yes. Sorry, my notes are a little jumbled. And if you want to know the truth, while I hate to criticize someone who’s dying, she really could have been a little clearer.

XIV.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. All the while I kept thinking, that damn Rinaldi borrowed my umbrella at the field hospital, and he never gave it back.

XV.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Darth Vader was my father, and I would just have to get used to it.

XVI.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I didn’t think there was anything that could happen that could make me feel worse. Then I saw a dirigible catch fire and plunge to the ground. Oh, the humanity.

XVII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. So much to think about. So many arrangements to be made. Would I have to un-friend Catherine now, I wondered, or would Facebook do that like, automatically, once somebody updates her status to dead?

XVIII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Then I took the baby to Pride Rock, and held him up in the air. “It’s the circle”, I said, “the circle of life.” And the animals knelt and worshipped us. All I could think about were those Purdy shotguns I had left in Kilamanjaro.

XXIX.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Catherine would laugh no more. But the bulls were still going to be running in Pamplona, and I still had my beret. If I hurried, I could still catch the 8:53 out of Trieste.

XXX.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. That was my last morning as co-host of The Today Show, but I like to think I will always be a member of The Today Show family.

XXXI.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I ran into Scott at Deux Maggots, and we drank absinthe until we started to box and then Zelda showed up and it was fine. After that we drank wine until Zelda told Scott that he had a small penis, and then they boxed, and it was fine.

XXXII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. The police had already booked Brigid O’Shaughnesy for Miles’s murder. “Be careful with the bird”, I told Tom. “That’s the stuff that dreams are made of.” Then Tom told me to lay off the schnapps, or else he’d have to throw me in the drunk tank.

XXXIII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. A single thought went round and round in my head. Clive Owen? Seriously, Clive Owen?

XXXIV.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Creed came up. I had given the handsome buck all that he could handle in our boxing match, but he told me there wasn’t going to be any rematch. I told him I didn’t want one. There was only one thing on my mind. “Adrian!” I shouted. “Adrian!”

XXXV.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Joe was leaving. “Say it ain’t so. Joe!” called out a kid in the crowd. But Joe just turned away, muttering “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

XXXVI.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. I would have preferred to have taken a taxi, but Gertrude is coming for dinner, and I have to stop at the boulangerie. She cracks me up. “A rose is a rose is a rose.” Where does she come up with this stuff? But when you think about it, it’s hard to say she’s wrong.

XXXVII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Jake Barnes was in the bar, and I felt better already. A guy loses his shoes, then he meets a man who has no feet. A guy’s girlfriend buys the farm, and then he meets somebody with real problems.

XXXVIII.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur”, said the concierge, “Vous avez un message.” She handed me a note. “A madamoiselle left it“, she murmered. “I just met you”, it read, “And this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me, maybe?”

XXXIX.

After a while I went out and left the hospital and—ah, forget it. I don’t know how to end this book, and frankly, I don’t give a damn.