Papa Hemingway provides my eleventh book of the year. A Moveable Feast is a collection of memoirs from Hemingway’s time in Paris during the early 1920’s. The story behind the book is an interesting one. In 1956 a trunk was discovered in the basement of the Ritz Hotel in Paris containing notebooks Hemingway had filled during his time in the city. He had them transcribed and worked on editing them into book form during the last few years of his life. His fourth wife edited the manuscript following his death. The end result was controversial, with many experts later questioning the validity of Mary Hemingway’s edits. Another (equally controversial) edition has since been published, edited by a Hemingway grandson.
A Moveable Feast is an enjoyable read but is not my favorite Hemingway work. It contains many fine examples of the classic Hemingway style, but has a somewhat artificial feeling. Whether it is the result of posthumous edits or Hemingway trying to recapture a youth that lived up to his tremendous reputation, the book doesn’t have the same depth of emotion as his short stories, novels, or other non-fiction works such as Death in the Afternoon. The book does paint a romantic and irresistible picture of a time and place that no longer exist. Hemingway makes 1920’s Paris sound like a Bogart movie put on paper. His descriptions of meals, locations, and people are charming and evocative. Read it for the glimpse of a bygone era and for the glimpse of Hemingway before he was the legend. Just don’t read it expecting another For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The Current Count:
11 Read, 89 To Go