Friday Favorites: A Moveable Feast

Friday, April 30, 2010


"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

In general I'm not a huge fan of Hemingway. I've read For Whom the Bell Tolls, Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises and True at First Light, so I have a decent view of his breadth of work. It always seems stilted to me. I feel distant from whatever is happening. The plot is too simple or I don't feel connected to the characters, especially the women, who are apparently only there to serve the men. I've enjoyed some of his books, but wouldn't say I love them.

The exception to that is A Moveable Feast, which is interesting because it's the only nonfiction book of his I've read. Hemingway wrote this about his early days as a writer when he was living in Paris with his wife Hadley in the 1920s. He was a struggling artist, spending his days writing in cafes and hanging out with his friends, Joyce, Pound and Fitzgerald to name a few.

I read this book shortly after moving back to the states from London. I had visited Paris multiple times while in Europe and the beauty of the city was still fresh in my mind. I'm sure that had a huge impact on my appreciation for the book, just as your personal experiences always have an effect on how you interpret what you're reading.

I don't think this is a perfect book. Many critique it for the rosy view of Hemingway and negative view of many others. But to me that's expected... Hemingway wrote it, take his words with a big grain of salt. Of course he's going to make himself look good and idealize that time period. The thing that hooked me is his description of the places and the people. It made me want to be there on the Left Bank perusing books in the Shakespeare and Co. or taking a road trip with Fitzgerald. Everything felt so real to me. It was the first time I felt completely drawn in to one of his books and I think it's because he was actually connected to that life, so he couldn't help pouring those feelings into the book.

6 comments:

Nymeth said...

I feel awful that I didn't even know this existed. Hemingway's fiction doesn't really appeal to me, but Paris in the 1920's? That sounds like something I could love.

Avid Reader said...

Definitely check it out. I was really surprised by it and I love that it's an intimate look at so many literary geniuses.

sharazad said...

I feel the same way about Hemingway---he's alright. But I liked The Old Man and the Sea and his short story 'A Clean Well Lit Place'.

I should give this a try.

Elizabeth said...

I've been ignoring this one on my shelf for a while...you've inspired me to pick it up, no matter how heavy it is :)

Shelley said...

I am not a lover of Hemingway either, for many of the reasons you stated, but maybe I should give this a try.

Avid Reader said...

sharazad- I'll have to check out 'A Clean Well Lit Place' thanks for the tip.

Shelley- try it out. If there's anything Hemingway anti-fans can stomach of his, I think it's this.