True at First Light

A big thank you to the Hemingway Family and Paula Bestwick at the Bozeman Library for putting  the ‘Movable Feast’ fundraiser at the Ale Works. The event was a big success and plans for a Bookmobile are moving forward. It was great meeting Patrick Hemingway, he was very gracious and supportive. Patrick edited and wrote the introduction for True at First Light, the last novel printed under the Hemingway name. It is an account of the writer’s second and final trip to Africa in 1953-4. Patrick was with his father on that trip and went on to spend first half of his adult life in East Africa.

In Africa a thing is true at first light and a lie by noon and you have no more          respect for it that for the lovely, perfect weed fringed lake you see across the sun-baked salt plain. You have walked across that plain in the morning and you know that no such lake is there. But now it is there absolutely true, beautiful and believable.                                                                             Ernest Hemingway



        On page 305 he writes about entering a store in Laitokitok, Kenya:

         “and I liked it because it was like the general store and post office in Cooke City, Montana.

         “In Laitokitok they did not have the cardboard boxes of obsolete calibers that the old-timers bought two to four cartridges from each season in the late fall when they wanted to get their winter meat. They sold spears instead.”

Hemingway had not been to our area in 14 years but somehow he was able to look at spears for sale in a general store in the middle of Africa and say ‘I like this place it reminds me of Cooke City’. His memory of the old-timers buying a couple of bullets in the fall demonstrates an understanding of the area that few passers through would be able to claim.

Cooke City General Store Montana - Photo by Pat Bonish-L

The Cooke City General Store is sits just outside Yellowstone’s North East Entrance and is open June through September. It is a Historical Landmark and has not changed much since Hemingway was a regular visitor. Drafts of To Have and Have Not and Death in the Afternoon.


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