Monday, September 1, 2008

The Book Review-- A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast
Ernest Hemingway

"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." Ernest Hemingway wrote these memorable words to a friend in the 1950s, and it is that quote about Paris being a moveable feast, presumably to be consumed wherever one ends up, that so aptly captures the spirit of this book. Rather than being a story, each chapter is a type of vignette about Hemingway's time spent in that venerable city during the 1920s with his wife and child. He befriends James Joyce, and Sylvia Beach, the proprietress of what would become the beloved Shakespeare and Co. bookshop. He gambles at the races, argues with Ford Madox Ford, drinks wine, acts as savior and confidante to F. Scott Fitzgerald... the list goes on and on. In retrospect, it is a life to be envied, romanticized here, with Hemingway enjoying friendships with many of that day's great luminaries.

I am not what would be considered a Hemingway fan. I've read a few of his books, and while I do enjoy reading stories about his life, such as Lillian Ross' Portrait of Hemingway (a short biography of Ernest which I highly recommend, especially to fans of the gentleman), I've never been able to get caught up in his stories themselves. I read A Farewell to Arms, which is wonderfully conceived and told, and yet end up feeling as if it doesn't elicit the proper emotions that one should feel for the characters. This book, to me, reads largely the same way. I am interested in his daily details, find Ernest's turn of phrase to be sublime, and yet leave feeling as if, well, I have no feelings. I am detached throughout, and as such, find it highly interesting in a biographical sort of way, but leave feeling as distant as ever.

I do recommend the book-- he writes so beautifully and sums things up in a way that is pure genius (such as his "moveable feast" quote). My only regret is that I want him to make me cry-- to make me feel sadness when he writes about falling in love with another woman that is not his wife. Instead, I sit back and observe, and then, turn a page and move on with life.

No comments: