I started on Hemingway’s book with a tingle of anticipation. I had never read any of his work before and A Moveable Feast had whispered to me for a while until I found it on the shelves of a bookstore and took it home.
The story takes place from 1921 to 1926, when Hemingway was young and in love and had given up his job as a journalist to become a full time writer. He and his wife were living in Paris, an inexpensive city where you could live cheaply and well “even if you were poor”. The city‘s cafes and restaurants are most prominent in his memories, for there doesn’t seem to be a single page where drink or food would not be mentioned.
The book starts quite suddenly, as if Hemingway was just then in the middle of a story he was telling and it follows at a steady pace all through the end. Whether he is talking about the places, the people or his writing (which was one of my favorite parts), his tone varies very slightly when he reminisces about the past and his encounters with the famous writers of that time. Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford and T.S. Eliot are but a few of those he mentions, sometimes with less than glowing words. One that seemed to have made a more lasting impression was Scott Fitzgerald, and there appeared to be a dual attitude to this friendship, as if Hemingway couldn’t make up his mind if he disliked or admired him. Or maybe it was a bit of both.
I found it rather difficult to relate to some parts of the book like the races and the drinking, but the seemingly easy, bohemian life, had a melody which made me envy those who were fortunate enough to live it. The walks, the books, the cafes, the fellow writers, all part of a world that was and can never be again, a time when “we were very poor and very happy”.
Read in December 2010