Friday, July 27, 2012

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Published: 1964
Rating: 4

Hemingway has been on my list of "to read" authors for a long time.  I've always looked for this book during library sales or at used bookstores with no luck.  So when it was on a carousel titled "Living in Paris" at my local library, I snatched it up.  It is a quick and interesting read about a literary expat's life in Paris after WWI.

It was during this time that Hemingway made friends with Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ford Maddox Ford and spent time with James Joyce; all of whom are within the pages of A Moveable Feast. 

This quote from Hemingway to a friend in 1950 is on the title page:
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
I like Hemingway's clear, concise, sometimes terse, sometimes elongated writing style.  Some of my favorite quotes:

His description upon meeting a nasty acquaintance of Ezra Pound.  In particular, what he says about the  eyes is crazy good.
He had a face that minded me of a frog, not a bullfrog but just any frog, and Paris was too big a puddle for him....Some people show evil as a great race horse shows breeding.....I tried to break his face down and describe it but I could only get the eyes.  Under the black hat, when I had first seen them, the eyes had been those of an unsuccessful rapist.    
On writing:
All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence you know.  
Up in that room I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about.  I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline.  
He learned "never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it."
On the chapter title page called "Scott Fitzgerald":
His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings.  At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it has been effortless. 
I have the following books on my wish list:

  • The Sun Also Rises (1926)
  • Man Without Women (1927)
  • A Farewell to Arms (1929) - about the Italian front
  • Death in the Afternoon (1932) - about bullfighting
  • Green Hills of Africa (1935) - about hunting big game in Africa
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) - Spanish Civil War
  • The Old Man and the Sea (1952) - Pulitzer Prize Winner in 1953
Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 "for his powerful, style-forming mastery of the art of narration."  

Tragically, he died by suicide in 1961. 


  1. This is my favorite Hemingway novel. I haven't loved all of his work, but this one is so raw and honest. It paints a beautiful picture of Paris.

  2. I recently visited Hemingway's house in Key West--I hadn't known much about him before but what I learned there had me hooked! I'm halfway through "The Sun Also Rises" and plan to read this one as well--it sounds fascinating.

  3. This is my review of AMF here. I'm not sure I enjoyed it as much as you though.