Thursday, February 3, 2011
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
I had no idea Ernest Hemingway was such a witty, sensitive, observant guy. A Moveable Feast is a collection of short vignettes from his early writing life in Paris in the 1920s. His love for the city, his wife, and all his quirky friends is evident on every page. His writing is nothing short of fabulous. He does away with unnecessary commas and just lets a sentence go until he runs out of breath, or the thought is finished, whichever comes first. I love that! It's more natural, I think, more like the way our inner thoughts work. I also love how he uses 'you' instead of 'I' in many cases, making his observations more universal and accessible (recognizable, perhaps?) to the reader instead of making this just his own personal story. These stories come from a place of youthful wonderment and energy . . . and folly.
"All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that you knew or had seen or had heard someone say." pg22
"In those days there was no money to buy books. Books you borrowed from the rental library and bookstore of Sylvia Beach at 12 rue de l'Odéon. On a cold windswept street, this was a lovely, warm, cheerful place with a big stove in winter, tables and shelves of books, new books in the window, and photographs on the wall of writers both dead and living." pg 31
"In the spring mornings I would work early while my wife still slept. The windows were open wide and the cobbles of the street were drying after the rain. The sun was drying the wet faces of the houses that faced the window. The shops were still shuttered. The goatherd came up the street blowing his pipes and a woman who lived on the floor above us came out onto the sidewalk with a big pot. The goatherd chose one of the heavy-bagged, black milk-goats and milked her into the pot while his dog pushed the others onto the sidewalk. The goats looked around, turning their necks like sight-seers. The goatherd took the money from the woman and thanked her and went on up the street piping and the dog herded goats on ahead, their horns bobbing. I went back to writing and the woman came up the stairs with the goat milk. She wore her felt-soled cleaning shoes and I only heard her breathing as she stopped on the stairs outside out door and then the shutting of her door. She was the only customer for goat milk in our building." pg 41
"I kept my mouth shut about things I did not like. If a man liked his friends' painting or writing, I thought it was probably like those people who liked their families, and it was not polite to criticize them. pg 88
"In writing there are many secrets too. Nothing is ever lost no matter how it seems at the time and what is left out will always show and make the strength of what is left in." pg 222