In the middle of the 20th century, when Ernest Hemingway was living in Cuba, his friend and future biographer A.E. Hotchner got the man to record himself on a wire recorder — the precursor of the tape recorder — so that one of the world’s most celebrated personalities could pop off about anything he’d like whenever he’d like.
The idea was to capture the sound and feel of Hemingway himself, unguarded and spontaneous, joyful and opinionated, comfortable in his own home, a part of him not on public display.
These off-the-cuff recordings, then, would give Hotchner hours of raw material from one of greatest literary minds in American history. Who, after all, would not think it an unforgettable experience to have plopped on Papa’s couch, listening to the man go off about war, writing, bullfights or fishing the Gulf Stream?
The closest you can get to that today is sitting in a soundproof