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December 31, 2008

A Moveable Feast

Filed under: Book Reviews — Robert John Ed @ 8:06 pm

I am back in Minneapolis and I can’t say how incredibly happy that makes me.  Alexandria is OK, but it’s not home anymore.  Additionally, occupying anything but your own space for an extended amount of time is precarious and stressful.  My car still isn’t fixed, it won’t hold idle, so it will be in line for another fix up after NYE.

One favorable aspect of being away was the amount of reading time.  I finished a couple of books, one is a financial investment book which I’ll detail at another time.  The other was Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, which was written as a set of memoirs from his time living in Paris.  Something there is in Hemingway’s prose, he is stripped down and easy to read.  Very seldom will he deviate from his seemingly ordinary writing style; it is something a reader gradually comes to understand and love.  Even these, a convoluded first person account of Parisian cafes, extraordinary acquaintences and unfamiliars reads much like his other stories.  I’m beginning to think that his work is more about him than the work itself, which in most instances would be a bad thing, but not here.  Yet it’s too early to tell that, and probably to early to ponder.

This is a good read for this simple ability to understand Hem’s world, if only for a short period in a far away land.  The 1920’s were truly something to behold in France as an incredible amount of talent was along.  A vast array of now legendary authors are discussed analyzed from Hem’s keen eye.  James Joyce, Ezra Pound (ironic seeing as his Wikipedia picture is a criminal photo and he is painted as the kindest of characters in the memoirs), F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein are prime examples amongst others.  Hearing a young Hemingway discussing his relationships with these people and his opinions thereof is an enjoyable exercise albeit tainted.

The reason being that some have argued about Hemingway portraying himself as a hero of sorts.  He often writes about not having money or food and seems to view the world through a looking glass of judgment.  Honestly, I believe everyone looks at the world in this way.  It’s merely the fact that he wrote it down for others to see.  Human nature is not necessarily that of a mother.  The book was also published posthumously after his suicide in 1961 (on a side note, there is now a festival every September in Idaho celebrating his life and achievements, I’d like to go sometime) and edited by his then widow.  This edit has been prosecuted by some critics as altering the meaning of the work.

Despite all these concerns, it was well worth the read.  A very short 200 pages full of insight and reverie for a world long lost.  As Hem wrote and is recognized at the beginning of the book:

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.

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