A Moveable Feast is my favorite Ernest Hemingway book to date. Published posthumously by his widow, Mary Hemingway, in 1964, A Moveable Feast is a series of short stories, or memoirs, from Hemingway’s time in Paris in the 1920s. In the preface to the book, he states that the reader may regard this work as fiction if he prefers, but “there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.” Personally, I take this to mean that this is largely a truthful telling.
One of the more intriguing features of the book is the repeated mention of the artists and authors with whom Hemingway regularly interacted. Familiar names such F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound are found throughout the book and form part of Hemingway’s regular existence. Paris in the 20s was as cool as Berkley in the 60s, and everyone who was anyone lived in Paris and knew Hemingway (even though he was not well known at the time).
Another notable feature of this book is its time period in Hemingway’s life. A Moveable Feast describes early Hemingway, when he was married to his first wife and trying to make it as a writer.
Some of the best chapters involve Hemingway’s interactions with F. Scott Fitzgerald. If the stories are true (and I’m not sure the Fitzgerald estate wants to admit that they might be), then F. Scott Fitzgerald was crazy. And his wife, Zelda, was crazier. There were moments in my reading of this portion of the book where I literally laughed out loud. It’s simply hysterical.
All of Hemingway’s writing is great. He has the uncanny ability, through short declarative sentences, to make stories come alive. I want to live, and eat, and drink in the places where Hemingway lived, and ate, and drank. I want to visit Paris because of Hemingway and any careful reader with a soul feels the same way. The city comes alive. The people come alive. The food and drink come alive. And the wanderlust is real.
I recommend any Hemingway, but especially A Moveable Feast.
5 out of 5 cups of black coffee.
Number 2 in 2016.