Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Reviewed by Ingrid

Published: 1964

It's about: This is a memoir about Hemingway's time spent in Paris in the 1920s. In his typical sparse, straighforward style he describes his daily writing habits, his friendships with famous writers like Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his adventures living in poverty with his first wife, Hadley.

Me at one of Hemingway's
 favorite hangouts in 2009
I thought: Woo! Loved it, just like I thought it would. It's extremely refreshing to read such a straightforward, delightfully simple memoir. You don't get those too often. Honestly, Hemingways could write about something as boring as sitting in a chair and staring at a wall in a way that makes it seem so lovely and meaningful. He makes being poor sound fun. Amazing!

Hemingway's descriptions of his time spent with F. Scott Fitzerald and his antics are HILARIOUS. My favorite line from this part is when they are in a hotel together and Scott dramatically insists he is sick. Hemingway writes:

Back in the room Scott was still lying as though on his tomb, sculpted as a monument to himself, his eyes closed and breathing with exemplary dignity.

Hadley and Ernest Hemingway,
 winter in Switzerland 1922 (via)

HA HA! Sculpted as a monument to himself. How perfect is that line???

I also really loved the very end of the book about Hemingway and Hadley's time spent skiing in Switzerland. It really, really made me want to go skiing. Come on, snow!

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf.

Reading Recommendations: I've heard that a great companion read to this book is The Paris Wife, written from Hadley's point of view. Also, if you read this book first I guarantee that you will love the movie Midnight in Paris.

Warnings: Drinking. Lots of drinking. Hemingway writes about it in a way that makes you want to drink a lot, too. But don't. That's not healthy.

Favorite excerpts: "That afternoon she [Gertrude Stein] told us, too, how to buy pictures.
   'You can either buy clothes or buy pictures,' she said. 'It's that simple. No one who is not very rich can do both. Pay no attention to your clothes and no attention at all to the mode, and buy your clothes for comfort and durability, and you will have the clothes money to buy pictures.'
   'But even if I never bought any more clothing ever,' I said, 'I wouldn't have enough money to buy the Picassos that I want.'
   'No. He's out of your range. You have to buy the people of your own age--of your own military service group. You'll know them. You'll meet them around the quarter. There are always good new serious painters. But it's not you buying clothes so much. It's your wife always. It's women's clothes that are expensive.'
   I saw my wife trying not to look at the strange, steerage clothes that Miss Stein wore and she was successful."

What I'm reading next: Almost done with Jude the Obscure