What is more glamorous than Paris in the 1920s? Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast instantly transports you to the “golden era,” in the most romantic city in the world. A Paris filled with cafes, wine and the narrow streets and the world’s finest artists and writers are all described in Hemingway’s sparse style. The stories of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Scott Fitzgerald, and his relationship with Zelda give us a little insight into what it must have been like to be around such immensely talented and creative people.
The love he shared with his first wife Hadley is apparent throughout the book and in the end he hints at his affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, saying that he would rather have died than love anyone else than Hadley. This and his open criticisms of Gertrude Stein and Zelda, makes this book deeply personal. One the most interesting parts is Hem, as he was called, discussing The Great Gatsby and how Scott was ultimately doomed:
“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 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 had been effortless.”
This book is a must read for any writer or aspiring writer, not only for the way Hemingway describes his work ethic and his dedication, but for the gorgeous prose he uses to do so.
As Hem says, “I would stand and look out over the rooftops of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence, and go on from there.”