July 27, 2016

Hemingway wins Hemingway look-alike contest


A scene from the festivities at Sloppy Joe's Bar, where the author was known to drink. Via Huffington Post.

A scene from the festivities at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where the author was known to drink. Via Huffington Post.

Ernest Hemingway’s influence on our culture is undeniable, to the degree that it is not enough to call our constant evocations of him imitation. His writerly influence can be seen everywhere from Cormac McCarthy to Raymond Chandler; his life philosophies linger anywhere we celebrate toxic masculinity; and art about Papa Hemingway has become its own cottage industry. But it could be argued that this speaks more to the late author’s sheer gravitational pull than our devout imitations.

But the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, Florida operates on a different logic. The July 23rd contest, the bridal gown of the town’s annual Hemingway Days Festival, awards a prize to the one out of 140 men who looks most like the author. But this year, the imitation game produced a new and sophisticated sequence, and the lucky winner was himself a Hemingway: Dave Hemingway.

(For those uninspired to click that link, I should say that the article’s first line is the Pulitzer prize-bidding, “The old man and the glee.”)

July in Florida be damned, Dave sweated his way to victory in the author’s iconic wool turtleneck, complimenting the soft white beard. Dave, who in the spirit of his namesake enjoys hunting, fishing, and women, trounced such notable contenders as Paula Deen’s husband Michael Groover (cheered on by none other than Paula herself).

Never before in the contest’s thirty-six-year history has a Hemingway won, but it did take this Hemingway (no relation to Ernest) seven years of competition to prevail.



Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.