Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Moveable Feast

Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to writing about this piece. I checked it out of the local library last month and read a few chapters each week in the Laundromat.
A Moveable Feast is Ernest Hemingway's chronicle of his life as a young writer in Paris. He meandered between cafes and friends' homes, staying in bare bones accommodations with his wife Hadley. Many other writers of the time figure into his account, Gertrude Stein, Ford Maddox Ford, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others. Each person sketched in detail sometimes brutal detail. Fitzgerald especially comes off as a bit of a naive fool, best illustrated in this infamous passage.
I love many of Hemingway's short stories, but his novels tend to be a little hard for me to connect to and read all the way through. However, I loved this memoir. Its stark prose was littered with surprising moments of poetry. This is one of my favorite passages from early in the book:

"All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter, and there were no more tops to the high white houses as you walked but only the wet blackness of the street and the closed doors of the small shops, the herb sellers, the stationary and newspaper shops, the midwife— second class—and the hotel where Verlaine had died where I had a room on the top floor where I worked.”

Of course, reading about Hemingway's struggles as a young writer is reassuring to this young writer. All his desire to write "one true sentence," to publish, to be a good writer are something I can connect to in my own journey. Even when set backs (like losing a suitcase full of stories there were no other copies of) didn't deter him from his quest. It makes me want to go back to my "Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway" and reread all of his early works that are alluded to in the memoir.
So definitely give this one a read, even if you don't always enjoy Hemingway, this is not to be missed

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