Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Gosh, I loved this book.

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


Kerry said...

My dad gave this to me for my birthday this year, after I mentioned I'd never read it and tried to borrow his copy. These passages sound wonderful - I can't wait to read it!

Trish said...

And there were so many more passages I wanted to quote! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

One of my absolute favorite books, so I'm so excited to see that you enjoyed it! I walked away from this book so moved by it, and it just resonated so deeply with me. I came across a great blog of another woman who is now researching all about Hadley - check it out, you may enjoy it:
Loved this book so much! When I reviewed it last year, it was this book and The Old Man and the Sea that cemented Hemingway as one of my favorite authors. Loved, loved, loved it!

Trish said...

Thanks for that link. Yes, I'd be very interested to find out more about Hadley. I just loved the way he spoke about her and they way they spoke to each other. It was so sweet, which makes their eventual breakup all the more sad. I was completely taken with this whole book, his story, his writing, and his personality. Loved it!

I'll be heading over to read your review now.

Sarah said...

I've read Hemingway's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' and I liked his style. This book sounds like a must read too!

Anonymous said...

GOT to read it!

Just peaked in to get my head out of my work...aaahhh what a breath of fresh air!


Trish said...

sarah - yes, that sounds like a good one too. I am on the look out for all things Hemingway.

nomad - hi hon! peak in any time. Hope your work is going well :)