The other day, I found myself at Manready Mercantile, doing the sorts of things one does at that Heights establishment, by which I mean sampling bits of hickory smoked beef jerky, pouring myself a Scotch (which tasted like hellfire), and perusing its selection of minimalist-inspired clothing. Otherwise, not being in the market for a $46 Henley, I contented myself with an appreciation of Manready's Americana ambiance and days-of-yore manliness, even as I fawned over its downright decadent leather armchairs, cowhides, old-timey first aid kits and the like. Soon enough I was in a wistful mood, which put me in mind of Ernest Hemingway. Papa would have loved this place, I thought. He'd probably have come here for all his cool summer linens, or maybe just to kick back and regale some poor sales associate with stories of fishing trips, arm wrestling bouts and running with the bulls (and I don't mean those wimpy Pamplona bulls either).
As it happens, I am not the only one in town with Hemingway on the brain. Over at Brazos Bookstore in Rice Village, he's a living legend, or he will be on July 21 anyway, when the store celebrates the author-adventurer's 116th birthday. Expect the usual beard contest, in-store fishing and Hemingway readings by idolatrous fans, one of whom will be your correspondent. (And before you ask, no, I was not chosen because of our testosteronal similarities with the Man. I have gone fishing just thrice in my life and the last time I shot a gun I forgot to wear earmuffs and nearly blew out my eardrums. Hemingway would have been mortified.)
But no matter. Now that he's gone, any schlemiel can bask in his aura. More to the point, everyone can enjoy yet again the master's efficient, straight-to-the-point prose as read by such folks as Joe Holley of the Chronicle, Elizabeth A.M. Keel of the Alley Theatre, writers Brooke Lightfoot and Veronica Anne Salinas, and yes, yours truly. Old-school masculinity may never be the same.
Hemingday! at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet St. 713-523-0701. Brazosbookstore.com