I finally finished A Moveable Feast today, and I’m ready to move to Paris once I’m out of college.
Whether that’s a feasible and wise decision on my part is questionable, but I will say that Ernest Hemingway’s memoir does nothing more than makes you fall in love with Paris. With the walks along the River Seine, the many cafes, the bookstores, the food, the society (though some things may have changed since the 1920’s, of course), the European mindset, and whatnot, how could you NOT want to go to Paris?
But the memoir tells about 1920’s Paris so vividly and perfectly, it’s almost surreal. The book really reads like a novel, with its flowing narration, its simplicity prose, it’s moving but clear imagery, and it’s “character” development. The way that each chapter tells a different story/experience in Paris yet they all connect to the theme of a writer in 1920’s Paris is a really cleaver way to write a memoir. I felt like I was looking through a photo album of his time there, each part having something unique but just as interesting a story to tell!
The book does a great, great job with description of the scene Hemingway came to love. The balance of action and description is built like a Hemingway novel, which I believe is why it’s so readable. The linear structure is that of a short story collection of expanded but beautifully told instances but keeps the reader engaged in the tales of Paris’s literary writing scene, Paris’s “golden age” and some of the most interesting interactions between Hemingway and the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, Ezra Pound, and, of course, the great Gertrude Stein (which Hemingway had some of the best conversations with, in my opinion)!
The memoir didn’t take me too long to read, partially because I could not put it down and partially because it’s not the longest book in the world (coming from a pretty slow reader), but it’s just the right length (unless you get the restored 2009 edition, which has a few new edits, additions, and other new stuff, along with a forward by Hemingway’s second son himself, Patrick Hemingway. I happened to read the original version).
When you read the book, it feels like you are walking side by side with Hemingway on his adventures through Paris. The narrative brings the classic feel of Hemingway to a real life account, which is also entertaining and thought provoking. Of course, Hemingway was a café guy in his free time, which I can very much relate too, so this is one for café lovers, as well as book lovers and Hemingway fans. In fact, this was the first thing I ever read from him, and I’m glad it was, since these were taken from journals written before even finished and published his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. I got to see what Hemingway was like off of the page just as his writing career is starting, which brings a lot to context, and brings for a great introduction to his writing style and his personality both on and off the page.
So all and all, this memoir is a must for anyone who reads. It has now made me fall in love with Hemingway and is ranked as one of top favorites. The book will make you want to go to Paris and hope the same thing happens to you that did to Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris.
Look out for Justin’s next review on Ellen Hopkins’s Impulse!