Reading and Writing with Hemingway

I consider myself a well-read girl — one who voraciously devours books and was in love with the Scholastic Book Club newsletters that my elementary school teacher would faithfully distribute each month. I can remember bringing it home and sitting with my mother and asking her for more books than was humanly possible to read in a one month period (not to mention it would have cost more than my family’s budget would probably allow).

As I get older, finding time to devote to a book is more difficult. I find myself stealing bits of time during my commute when I should be working or in that 15-minute window before the lure of sleep and the comfort of down makes it impossible for my eyes to stay open. But reading is still a passion and one that I find goes hand in hand with writing, for, as many writing instructors have told me over the years, in order to write well you must read a lot.

And I find I can’t wait to get my hands on a new book – hence the growing list of books to read in my iPhone notes. They range from current works of fiction (most recently with “The Help” and “The Imperfectionists“) to travel and/or adventure-disaster memoirs of the “Touching the Void“-variety. Which brings me to my most recent read, “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway.  It was the first time, in a long time, when a book had me so thoroughly engrossed that I spent a large chunk of a Saturday afternoon in my backyard, savoring each chapter and the Parisian escapism.

Hemingway had such a distinct style of prose – one that is often described as simple and succinct  – and I felt as though I was reading his journal and gleaning insights into 1920s Parisian life and “la generation perdue” (or “The Lost Generation” for the non-French speaker) — the idea of what it means to be a writer, struggling to make ends meet in a foreign city and how life with creative souls, like Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald, could go from ordinary to extraordinary in a matter of minutes all while having an aperitif  at La Closerie des Lilas.

As someone with writerly aspirations, I’m in awe of his craft. His ability to tell a story is one in which I hope to master some day. And it’s not just his writing ability, it’s how he lived a vibrant life — one where he ate and drank exceptionally well and where money (or a lack thereof) didn’t affect his ability to truly experience life in the City of Lights.

Part travel memoir, part writing guide and part love letter to the city of Paris and his first wife, Hadley – “A Moveable Feast” truly is just that, a delectable read that explores the creative bounty Paris reveals for those who choose to stay awhile.

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2 thoughts on “Reading and Writing with Hemingway

  1. Loved A Moveable Feast. Have you read The Paris Wife? It’s a fictionalized version of Hemmingway’s first wife’s life. Stunning book. I know, I know, another one to add to your list… 🙂

    I stocked up on a lot of books I always meant to read at the Borders closeout sale. Lots of reading to do!

  2. I haven’t read The Paris Wife, but surprise, surprise, it’s on my list 🙂 I had bought A Moveable Feast and it had been sitting on my bookshelf when The Paris Wife came out – the quintessential line at the end of, “I wish I had died before I loved anyone but her.” – breaks my heart.

    Good call on the Borders closeout sale – I should hit up my local Borders before it closes. I was a big fan of Amazon’s summer Kindle sale – got a ton of books for $4 or less. I’ve got a queue of about 7 or 8 books just waiting to be read.

    Happy reading to you!

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