‘There were no problems except where to be happiest’

A few weeks ago at the behest of my Voxxy friend Daby, I listened to Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I told him that I refused to actually read it, because I wasn’t sure that Hemingway was worth the effort. My hate-hate relationship with Ernie has spanned nearly 20 years.

Now, I think I have to revisit my crackpot theory and my stance on Hemingway being some of the suckiest suck to ever suck. Much to my chagrin, I really enjoyed A Moveable Feast. Even worse, the Ernie who wrote this book was almost charming. DAMN. I hate when my deeply held beliefs are challenged.

Basically, A Moveable Feast is Ernie’s memoir about his time in Paris after WWII hanging with the Lost Generation. So yeah, it’s a book about one of (allegedly) the greatest writers ever hanging out with some of the other greatest writers ever. While in Paris Ernie hung with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot.

So besides, as Daby called it, the writer’s porn, what I enjoyed so much about this book was that Ernie showed emotion. Not only did he show emotion, he showed it really well. I keep going back to two things he said in the book. First, he was talking about a generous bookstore owner/librarian who let him borrow books without paying the full deposit. “It was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me,” he said.

The scene with the bookstore owner happens pretty early on in the book and it really caused me to pause. I’m not sure what I liked more that the nicest thing anyone ever did for him was loan him some books or that he even said it. It was then I knew I was in danger of developing a crush on Ernie.

I didn’t stand a chance.

Because the second thing that I remember so fondly from the book is Ernie talking about spring in Paris by saying, “there were no problems except where to be happiest.”


Seriously folks, I didn’t think it was possible for me to like Ernest Hemingway at all, much less develop a crush on him, that’s how good A Moveable Feast is. It managed to make a bitter, jaded harpy like me consider rethinking something she’s believed with all her heart since 1988.

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  1. dabysan 26.Jun.07 at 10:14 am

    Awesome. I’m so glad you liked it. A Movable Feast wasn’t the first Hemmingway I ever picked up, but it might have been the first I willingly finished…and wanted to read again as soon as I put it down.

    Anyone who’s ever had literary aspirations needs to read this book. It’s about everything that’s good about being a starving writer.

  2. Jodi 26.Jun.07 at 10:15 am

    Oh yeah, I’ve listened to it twice. Now I need to get the actual physical book so I can actually read it.

  3. dabysan 26.Jun.07 at 10:18 am

    And I think you may be onto something with the emotion angle. I think I’d find Hemmingway’s larger body of work much more appealing if it had A Movable Feast’s level of honest insight into the hopes and fears of its protagonist. Now I think I need to read it again, again.

  4. Jodi 26.Jun.07 at 10:24 am

    EXACTLY! That’s why I dislike because there is no emotion at all, ever, anywhere. Blech.

    But he does the emotion really well in ‘Feast’ and it’s still kind of understated and sparse, as he is known for, but at least it’s there.

    Which is why ‘Feast’ is much more enjoyable than everything else I’ve ever read by him.

  5. jags 26.Jun.07 at 6:30 pm

    Try The Sun Also Rises, too.


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