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Green Hills of Africa (Scribner Classics)

Green Hills of Africa (Scribner Classics) - Ernest Hemingway Setting: 1935, a fancy publisher's office in Manhattan. A late middle-aged executive in a three-piece suit has his feet up on his mahogany desk, and is smoking a fat cigar. The intercom buzzes...Secretary's voice: Mr. Scribner, Ernest Hemmingway is here to see you.Scribner (S): Send him in, Sally!Ernest Hemingway (EH) barges in, rubbing his hands expectantly, a giant grin on his face.EH: Did you see it? Did you see it?S: Yes, Ernest. I read it last night. (picks up manuscript off the desk)EH: Well, waddaya think? Pretty fantastic, huh?! (Pantomiming swinging a baseball bat) I knocked that one right out of the park...S: Listen, Ernest... (Motions to a big leather couch) sit down. We have to talk.EH: (suddenly serious) Sure... sure, we can talk. What's up?S: (in an authoritative, paternalistic tone) Ernest, you know I love ya, but we have to make some changes. I know the publishing biz, and I'm telling you: we cannot put this book out on the market the way it is now.EH: What's wrong with it?S: Well, let's start with the title. "Captain Testosterone and the Hell-Beasts at the Center of the Universe"? We've been through this before... I'm not printing any of these "Captain Testosterone" stories. For one thing, the name is slightly vulgar. For another thing, the stories are crap!EH: CRAP??? (waving his finger) Need I remind you what a hit A Farewell to Arms turned out to be??S: ERNEST!! (waving his finger the same way, and speaking in a slightly mocking tone) "Need I remind you" we took Captain Testosterone out of that book??? (motioning with his thumb, like a baseball umpire declaring "You're out!")EH: (backing down) Oh, yeah... But he's a hero for the kids! S: Well that's another thing... what do you think is heroic here? These so-called "hell-beasts" were minding their own business on their own planet. He shows up in his rocket ship, and goes on a rampage, slaughtering them. Where's the heroism, Ernest?EH: Those hell-beasts are twelve feet tall! And they've got CLAWS!!! (feigns claws with his hands) S: Yeah, but they weren't threatening anybody! EH: (thinks for a second) They could have hurt Princess Funbags...S: (sighs) Yeah? "Captain Testosterone" brought her to that planet, so if the hell-beasts hurt her, it would have been his fault! EH: Um...S: And by the way, I don't get why she's a character in this book. She doesn't do anything. She doesn't say anything...EH: (interrupting) She tells Cap'n T how brave he is! (thinks for a second) And how smart he is.S: (waves his hand dismissively) Pffffft! You need to develop her character, or drop her completely.EH: (meekly) She's got funbags...S: (clearing his throat, annoyed) Moving on... (flips some pages, stops to point out a passage in the text) What's this villain? "The Evil Dr. Karl"?EH: Cap'n T's recurring nemesis!S: But what exactly is evil about him? What did he do?EH: (disbelief) He shot a bigger hell-beast than Captain Testosterone!S: (incredulous) ...yeah, AND????...EH: (persisting) In front of Princess Funbags! Karl's trying to be the Alpha-male! He's making the Captain look bad!S: (disgusted) Ugh! This whole thing is a MESS!!! Look, I'm going to be straight with you. We're going have to rewrite the whole book...EH: NO! NO! NO! NO!S: (louder, talking over Ernest) YES! YES! YES! YES! (skimming pages at near the back) This whole ending has to go! This is stupid... He's at the center of the universe, but... I don't get it.EH: Yeah! They sent him to this planet at the center of the universe, but he learns from the computer that WHEREVER HE GOES, he's at the center of the universe! He is the center of the universe! Get it? ...because he's like, "The Man"?S: (thinks for a second) That doesn't make any sense. We're gonna ditch that part. In fact, this doesn't even have to be science fiction. Why can't it just be on Earth? Safari in Africa, or something...EH: (hands to his head) Aaaaaaaargh! You're ruining it!!S: (keeps going, ignoring Ernest) ...and forget about "Captain Testosterone". We're going to make it about you! (snaps his finger and points at Ernest) An autobiography!EH: (whining) Meeee? Aaaaaaafrica? Eeeeew...I've been there. The place was crawling with bugs!S: No, this is good...(Scribner flips through pages of the manuscript. He stops at one page and makes a note. Ernest is looking over his shoulder)EH: (pointing) Hey! What are all these changes you've made already?S: (absentmindedly) Just playing around with it a little.EH: (exasperated) But there's so many words... S: Yeah. It's a book, Ernest. You know? With words???EH: But you put in too many! (points at a passage in the text) Like here! (reading aloud)...He regarded the magnificent landscape- the vast expanse of sky above, and the hideous intense raw beauty of ten thousand geologic eons screaming along his optic nerves, biting into his brain, engulfing him like the deepest void of outer space on the blackest night, transcending and completely dwarfing the entire bucking and shuddering drama of human history, reducing it to a barely perceptible quiver..." S: (smiling) What's wrong with it? I think that's very poetic.EH: Can't you just say "It was good"?S: Ernest, you say "It was good" about thirty-seven times in this chapter. You have to think of new ways to say something, or the readers will get bored.EH: (cautiously) I don't know... I don't like this.S: Trust me. Have I ever been wrong before? (walks behind his desk and presses a button on the intercom) Sally, get me the ghostwriter...