Enjoy an Evening of Stories Over Dinner Jun 7, 2007
Normally, the lives of writers are not as interesting as their works are. I usually stay away from biographies of writers, finding that authors communicate best in the narrative of their stories and the rhythms of their language. But in Hemingway's A Moveable Feast we get the best of both worlds. Hemingway tells the story of his lean years in Paris between 1921 and 1926 in the same spare yet expressive prose that we encounter in his fiction. In fact A Moveable Feast is structured like a book of short stories each episode able to stand on its own. His poignant and self-effacing apologia of the dissolution of his first marriage in the last chapter is uncharacteristic for the arrogant and macho Hemingway, but all the more enjoyable for its idiosyncrasy. The portrait of the debauched and dissolute, yet genius, Scott Fitzgerald is both an homage to a dear friend and a cautionary tale all roled up into one. Zelda Scott, Gertrude Stein and a few others are painted with personality warts and character halitosis, but some, like Ezra Pound are clearly idealized. So Hemingway had is favorites and scores to settle toward the end of his life, when he finally got around to writing this book. The perspective throughout the book is a bit turgid but not at all defensive (there is even a bit of old man's humility), so the self-serving prose is tolerable. My favorite aspect of the book is the picture it paints of Paris. If you have been to that beautiful city, the scenes will lift off the page like a 3-D Google Earth view and the unique beauty, culture, and ambience that Hemingway so deftly describes will make you want to return.