Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Moveable Feast

My used copy cost a measly $2.98! Quel steal!
As if I need another excuse to be pining for Paris, I went and picked up A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway last week. If the title confuses you at all, look at Hemingway's quote to a friend in 1950, "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." If this doesn't immediately strike you as fact, then you, my friend, have not lived in la belle France! I think, perhaps, Hemingway's genuine love for Paris is what swept aside my previous failed attempts at reading his work. It's more of a memoir of living, writing, and loving in 1920s Paris. Still, he prefaces the book by saying, "If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction." But who would prefer that? We're talking about a man who lived in Paris in the roaring 20s, mingling with the expat likes of Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach (she owned Shakespeare & Company, then a lending library as well as a bookstore), F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald! Can your brain handle that? Mine certainly can't! *swoon*

Hemingway understands Paris inside out. The way he richly describes its heartbeat, its rhythm, its hum, is simple yet enlightening. Take, for instance, the following, "When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest." Statements like this somehow manage to be revealing even when you experienced that very feeling yourself. And then, of course, you inevitably find yourself cooing over any place he mentions that you've been yourself whether its Shakespeare & Company or the Jardin du Luxembourg. Despite the fact that we sadly no longer live in a world where we can bump into F. Scott Fitzgerald at our local café, Paris still has the same spirit, the same passion for everyday, and that's part of what I found so striking. Hemingway describes a town that you change as it changes you and I, for one, had the same experience. If you haven't been to Paris, never fear! This is quality daydreaming material and you'll feel like you're there!

Sidenote: oh hey, it's Hemingway's passport photo from that era... and he's a total babe! (x)
He tells all manner of stories, each a sinfully delicious treat on its own. If you're expecting fluff, look elsewhere; he won't sugar coat the personalities of your personal favorites from that golden era. Life in Paris itself isn't glorified either, at least not in the sense that nothing could ever affect you. The time he looks back on was the time before he had written his first novel, a time when he and his family were hungry, scraping by on short stories. But nothing shakes his love for the City of Light, just like nothing shakes mine. The city changes something in you, something you can't quite pinpoint. And no matter what trials and tribulations come your way, at the end of the day you're happy because you're in Paris. And life is so beautiful in Paris. But if anyone's come up with that time machine, I know I'd like to go back to 1920s Paris ASAP! I'd like to sit in La Closerie des Lilas and watch Hemingway scribble away as I sip espresso in my flapper dress, stop F. Scott Fitzgerald from drinking another glass of wine, and make plans for a glorious night on our beloved hometown. This book is a breeze of a read, absolutely intoxicating. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a copy. When you're done, I'll meet you under la Tour Eiffel in 1924 to dance the Charleston with Ernest Hemingway!
P.S. Dear Santa, in case you didn't make it through the entire post, I would like a time machine headed for 1920s Paris. Merci!

2 comments:

  1. Now I want to read it even more. And I don't think we even need a time machine... Just a midnight stroll through Paris.

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