Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Feast of Words

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, the springs that fed it." Hemingway clearly followed what he preached because every single one of his short stories and novels is a work of pure, unadulterated genius - an example of the level of beauty the English language can attain when wielded by a true master. Hemingway's uncanny ability to weave words into seemingly simple, yet fully loaded, phrases is what sets him apart from other American authors, as well as what makes him my all time favorite author. His way with descriptions is unlike that of any other; you can practically taste the wines and meals he writes about, feel the rain on your face as he walks you through the streets of Paris on an overcast day and hear the clap of shells crashing during a battle in war-torn Italy. I know some people are not terribly fond of Hemingway, but to me, his writing is sheer perfection.
While I have read all his books, and love them all dearly, one in particular continues to resurface on the top of my "books to read" stack: A Moveable Feast. I have read this particular work of Hemingway's about three times already, which is a lot considering I have such a busy literary schedule, and every time I read this wonderful book, I find something new to delight over.
Full of delicious bites of prose, A Moveable Feast is Hemingway's personal account of his life in Paris. The story that unfolds is any aspiring writer's fantasy. Hemingway spends his days wandering the streets of Paris and writing in charming cafes, where he dines on succulent oysters that taste of the sea and drinks crisp white wines, robust reds and liquors as strong and verile as he once was. Hemingway's co-characters, friends really, are nothing short of marvelous. Between Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald, each chapter is better than the last.
And, of course, as the title suggests, the manner with which Hemingway describes the meals and libations he and his friends partake of is almost too fabulous to read in one sitting, that's how good he is. You will not want to put this book down because you won't want it to end; you won't be ready to leave Hemingway's Parisian world just yet.
This book made me want to pack up my bags and move to Paris straight away. Now I know you're thinking that many people probably say this after reading books by Hemingway, but, seriously, if it hadn't been for that pesky finishing high school and college thing, I would have gone. A Moveable Feast makes you yearn for the way things once were and long to be in Paris, even if it's the cold dead of winter or pouring down rain. Hemingway illuminates this romantic city's many faces of beauty in ways you never thought possible, especially considering he isn't even a native Parisian.
I also strongly believe that anything you need to know about life is in A Moveable Feast. Love, laughter, sorrow, struggles, pain, happiness, contentment... it's all mentioned in this book, and Hemingway's basic yet poignant phrases tell you exactly what you will need to know for every situation. Trust me, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Of course, I would recommend anything written by Ernest Hemingway. He is my idol, my hero, my personal literary god. But A Moveable Feast is certainly an excellent way to start, especially if you have read nothing or very little by him. So I raise my glass to you and cheer with the hope that you will go now and pick up this literary masterpiece.

"We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other." Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast


At 9:39 AM, Blogger Kate said...

Okay...I don't care much for Hemmingway and I'm STILL going to go read this book. ;)


At 7:45 PM, Blogger UncannyXMan said...

I bet you thought I didn't read your blog, right?

Good review of the book. As a Hemingway aficionado myself, I finally decided to read this piece of greatness a couple months ago. Specifically, when I went to visit my sis in Paris for 8 days. I read it chapter by chapter...taking in the city at the same time.
I'll say it once, and I'll say it again. The best way to really appreciate a book is to not only read it, but also LIVE it.
I'm sure Hemingway would agree with me...


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