Hemingway describes Larry Gains, a black Canadian amateur boxer who was once titled “the heavyweight champion of Canada.” One day, Hemingway receives a letter from the sports editor of the Toronto Star asking him to “look after” Larry while he is in Paris. Hemingway and Larry meet at the Café Napolitain; Hemingway notes that Larry is “very nice” and that he has enormously long hands, too long to fit into normal boxing gloves. They walk over to the Stade Anastasie, a “dance hall restaurant” that hosts boxing matches during the late spring, summer, and early fall. Customers at the restaurant can watch the match as they eat dinner. Larry is light for a heavyweight, and Hemingway worries that “any heavyweight will murder him.” Hemingway questions the trainer at the Stade Anastasie anxiously, but the trainer dismisses his concerns. When Hemingway begins to give Larry tips during training, the trainer tells him to “shut up.” At the fight on Saturday, Larry beats his opponent, but then apologizes to Hemingway for not looking good. Hemingway assures him that everyone thought he was “wonderful,” and they agree to meet at the Café Napolitain again on Monday.
This chapter presents a new spin on the theme of craft, critique, and consumption. Like Hemingway, Larry is at the apprentice stage of his career, still in the process of refining his skills and distinctive style. The responsibility of “looking after” Larry thus places Hemingway in the same position of mentorship that he received from Gertrude Stein and other writers. Like Hemingway, Larry receives conflicting advice about how best to develop his craft, which leads him to feelings of self-doubt even after he wins the match. The customers who sit and eat dinner while watching the boxing match at Stade Anastasie emphasize the connection between the consumption of food and the consumption of other people’s work (whether that be art or, in the case of Larry, sport).