It is almost impossible to describe the new posthumous Hemingway book, 'Islands in the Stream,' from the point of view of what happens in it without making it seem preposterous. It gives us Hemingway as a concoctor of selfinflating fantasies at his most exhibitionistic. You have him in his Cuban residence, very thinly disguised as a painter, one Thomas Hudson, showing his sons how things ought to be done and how to behave like men (his younger brother Leicester has explained how Ernest like to instruct him); you have him in his favorite bars, where he can bully his hangers-on, subjecting them to his sarcasm and otherwise putting them down, and as captain of his own boat, maintaining a good-natured but effective discipline among a gallant crew that adores him. All this time, he is being brought drinks by his servants, by the waiters, or by the members of his crew. One of the last, who drinks too much, is wisely and firmly checked, and in a moment of equally firm self-discipline Hudson makes the dramatic gesture of throwing 'high over the side' and letting 'the wind take it astern' a glass of 'gin and coconut water with Angostura and lime.' In his relations with other people he is always on top, always the acknowledged 'champion' that Hemingway aspired to be in his writing when he boasted that he was 'trying to knock Mr. Shakespeare on his ___.' (I am sorry, in the interests of decorum, to be obliged to leave blanks in my quotations from Hemingway.) The most outrageous departure from plausibility, which is also the weakest of the episodes, occurs when Hudson's first wife, long divorced and now a singer entertaining the troops, makes a point of looking Hudson up and eagerly goes to bed with him. This woman is not in any way recognizable as Hemingway's first wife but all too recognizable as a well-known friend of Hemingway's. (1) But why, one asks, if these two characters in the novel can enjoy such passionate love, did they ever separate? They are agreed not to talk about the past; they acknowledge that they were both to blame. But why can they not be reunited? Nothing is ever explained.