Without a doubt, my money would be on Ernest Hemingway. And it’s not even a competition at all — he’s just a completely larger than life figure. He was a boxer. A journalist. A man who volunteered to drive ambulances in WWI as a teenager, who fought in and reported on the Spanish civil war, helped free Paris at the end of WWII. Lover of many, husband of four, winner of a Nobel Prize. A man who almost came to blows with Orson Welles once and many others.
A man who exchanged so many great and beautifully written letters with his friends, lovers and spouses that you could fill entire books with it — and I’ve once held such a tome containing a thousand pages, easily. A man who lived life completely by his own rules, so free it dizzies the mind. A man who befriended gunslingers, bull fighters, soldiers, fishermen, hell, even Fidel Castro himself. And who was then fearlessly, authentically and completely himself with every single one of them, no matter how powerful or powerless.
Look at the Cuban leader poking his finger into Hemingway’s chest. Hemingway entirely free of fear or concern. Did they have a little disagreement? Might be. Because one other thing the great writer did in his later years, was fishing. He loved fishing. But he did not just fish for big nautical creatures to show off, no. Ernest “Papa” Hemingway fished for U-boats — he had a sonar installed in his ship and informed the CIA of the whereabouts and movements of Russian submarines. He did so as he lived in Cuba. Communist Cuba, where he was friends with their leader… a spy of Bond proportions even in his older years!
Ernest Hemingway was the ballsiest, craziest, wildest and most interesting author that ever lived. And he never wrote a single novel in which there was a single character more fascinating than the man himself.