While I haven’t been good about writing, I have been a very good reader! Instead of being overwhelmed with a number of full-on reviews to write, I have decided to post a bunch of mini-reviews of the books I have read in the last month. Click the title of the book to be directed to its Goodreads page so that you can get all of the publication info and a synopsis! I’m a pretty happy reader lately!
Immediately following the announcement of Bradbury’s death, I picked up this old favorite. The Illustrated Man is a collection of short stories–some horror and many science fiction. The coolest part about this collection is the premise: a guy meets another guy on the road, a man covered in tattoos (illustrations). The kicker is that each of these tattoos move and tell a story. The illustrated man warns his new hobo buddy not to look at them because one tattoo tells the future of the onlooker. But, the hobo buddy doesn’t listen (of course), and so we get all of the tales found on the man’s body.
My particular favorite stories are the first ones: “The Veldt” (which I try to teach every year, alongside Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” for my irony unit), “Kaleidoscope”, and “The Long Rain”. Bradbury was a true genius.
Ugh. The Sookie books just keep going downhill! Deadlocked is the 12th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and while it’s not the worst (I think the last one was), it is nowhere near as good as the first 6 or 7 of the series were. I’m not sure where Harris is going wrong at this point. It might be that she seems to have her old characters pop up for no reason in her books in a sort of “Hey! Remember me? I have nothing to do with this plot, but I’m here!” At one point in this book, Sookie and Sam are reminiscing about how much better everything was a few years ago, and I couldn’t help but think “Yeah it was. You feel the same way too?”
I can’t abandon this series. I have to see what happens in the end because I invested so much in these characters. But, I have to say that the last few books have been nothing but weak sauce.
After the Sookie debacle, and a rough week at work, I needed to escape in my reading. Thank goodness I discovered The Thirteenth Tale at the library! I’m not sure if I loved this book so much because it was truly well-written, or if it just perfectly suited my mood.
This is a story about a mysterious storyteller, Vida Winter, and her biographer, Margaret. We, the reader, get sucked, right along with Margaret, into Winter’s intriguing and mysterious gothic life story. It’s a book about twins, ghosts, and madness.
It is definitely written for lovers of the story. Lovers of books. Margaret, a woman who would sacrifice any living person for a copy of Jane Eyre, makes excellent observations about the act of reading and its effects upon a person.
Man, I just loved this book. It’s been a long time since I was swept away by a new book, and this one did it for me!
In the same way that it has been a long time that I was swept away by a book, it’s also been a very long time since I was physically affected by a book. I wanted to throw up when I read this book. Not because it was written poorly. I was very upset by some of the events that transpire in this fictionalization of the wedded years of Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson.
As Ernest is courting Hadley at the beginning of the story, and during their early years of marriage, I developed a HUGE crush on Hemingway. He’s a young, passionate whippersnapper who enjoys boxing at parties and older, plain-spoken women. My dream man. But, I read A Moveable Feast and I have some background knowledge on Hemingway and his many wives. I know they’re not going to last. But, god! Did it have to be so painful? I wanted to hide my face in a pillow when I read about the lengths he went to in his affair, and what Hadley put up with. I yelled “Bitch!” at the book, I tweeted my nausea, I was very much upset!
This was a good book. I always wondered about Hadley when I read A Moveable Feast and I got some answers here. I also had forgotten why I hated The Great Gatsby so much (besides the forced symbolism throughout), and now I remember. I hate these people! The post WWI generation was a terrible lot! They just didn’t give a hoot! So, I’m glad I read this book. You always know it’s a good one if it makes you feel. I definitely felt with McLain’s novel!
Luckily, I got to feel good again after The Paris Wife by finishing up The Hobbit. I read this for SJ’s “Putting the Blog in Balrog” Hobbit/Lord of the Rings readalong, and I posted about the first five chapters. Upon completion of this re-read, I think that The Hobbit is my favorite. At least for now. I might change my mind with The Return of the King, because that was my former favorite, but, for now, it’s The Hobbit. I just love Tolkien’s tone and humor in The Hobbit. It feels so magical and light. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it! And don’t skip over the songs!
Currently, I am halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring as well as my first foray into steampunk: Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan. Loving both!
• A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
• Hardcover: 211 pages
• Publisher: Scribners, 1964 (first edition!)
• Genre: Memoir/Classic
• Recommended For: Anyone interested in descriptive memoirs, classic authors, “the Lost Generation”, and writing tips from one of America’s best authors.
An excellent quick read that inspires the aspiring writer and paints a lovely picture of Paris in the ’20s. Really brings Hemingway down-to-earth and makes me want to try to re-read some of his novels (never was a fan).
How I Got Here: My sister is currently on her belated honeymoon in Paris, and one of her goals was to see all the sights that she read about in this book. Before she left, she insisted that I also read the book, thinking that it would be inspiring as a writing book. This books satisfies tasks for A Classics Challenge, End of the World Challenge, and the Award-Winning Challenge. It’s also number 72 on my list for The Classics Club.
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
– ERNEST HEMINGWAY, to a friend, 1950
Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway’s most beloved works. It is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.
My Analysis and Critique:
I’ve written quite a bit about this book already, and I’m sure it’s obvious that I greatly enjoyed this book.
I was and am surprised that I enjoyed A Moveable Feast so much as I’ve never been a fan of Hemingway’s. I always considered myself in the Steinbeck camp–Hemingway’s style always felt cold to me. Maybe it’s his minimalist, lean style. However, A Moveable Feast was nothing but heart! I saw Paris through Hemingway’s eyes, I could hear every conversation he transcribed, and I could taste the delicious meals and wine he consumed.
The book is composed of the journal entries he recorded as a young man living in Paris in the ’20s, and this is apparent in his stream-of-consciousness style. It was very engaging. Hemingway reflects upon his favorite spots in the city, the start and dissolution of his friendship with Gertrude Stein, his true friends and his phony colleagues. He comes off as a jerk at times, but his writing reflects his youth, and is as forgivable as any youthful misbehavior.
A Moveable Feast is also full of writing tips from Hemingway, as he reflects quite a bit on his writing process, the obstacles that got in the way of his writing, and how he dealt with said obstacles. Any creative person would get something out of Hemingway’s tips. I would place this on the shelf next to my most-prized writing books.
Overall, I highly recommend this book for its wonderful descriptions of Paris, the lively characters that Hemingway reflects upon (including Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald), and the inspiration it stirs in my writer’s soul. A quick read and worth anyone’s time!
Check out my previous posts below to get a better feeling for the writing in the book!
Setting is a huge part in any narrative work, be it fictional or memoir. Paris, in Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, is hugely significant– it could easily be considered the main character in this nonfiction work.
A Moveable Feast was published posthumously in 1964 and covers Hemingway’s time as a young expatriate in Paris from 1921 to 1926. As a young man in Paris, Hemingway spent his time writing, fretting over writing, and talking about books, writing, and art with his wife and circle of friends, which included Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He also spent quite a bit of time relishing in the cafes, bookstores, and streets of Paris. For a man famed for his to-the-point style of writing, Hemingway paints a vivid picture of what it was like to be in Paris in the ’20s.
I am halfway through A Moveable Feast, and would like to share some images and a short film that illustrates the setting of Hemingway’s life in Paris. All images have been taken from the wonderful blog Hemingway’s Paris and cover the pages which I have read thus far.
Closerie des Lilas
Hemingway loved to write for hours in the cafes of Paris, and the Closerie des Lilas was a particular favorite of his. So much so, that he became very territorial if an annoying peer happened to encounter him and disrupt his writing. Here is an amusing scene when such an interruption occured at the Lilas cafe:
“Hi, Hem. What are you trying to do? Write in a cafe?”
Your luck had run out and you shut the notebook. This was the worst thing that could happen. If you could keep your temper it would be better but I was not good at keeping mine then and said, “You rotten son of a bitch what are you doing in here off your filthy beat?”
“Don’t be insulting just because you want to act like an eccentric.”
“Take your dirty camping mouth out of here.”
“It’s a public cafe. I’ve just as much right here as you have.”
“Why don’t you go up to the Petite Chaumiere where you belong?”
“Oh dear. Don’t be so tiresome.”
Now you could get out and hope it was an accidental visit and the visitor had only come in by chance and there was not going to be an infestation. There were other good cafes to work in but they were a long walk away and this was my home cafe. It was bad to be driven out of the Closerie des Lilas. I had to make a stand or move.
Hemingway continues to insult the man, who is also a writer, and finally gets him to promise to never frequent the Closerie des Lilas again! Incidentally, this guy seems to be riding Hemingway’s coattails and reminds me of everyone’s favorite hack, Kenny Bania of Seinfeld…
Shakespeare and Company
In those days there was no money to buy books. I borrowed books from the rental library of Shakespeare and Company, which was a library and bookstore of Sylvia Beach at 12 rue de l’Odeon. On a cold windswept street, this was a 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 famous writers both dead and living.
Hemingway, along with many other expatriate writing greats, spent a good deal of time at this bookstore. He chatted with Ms. Beach, met with other writers, borrowed books, and even received his mail there.
Along the Seine
Across the branch of the Seine was the Ile St.-Louis with the narrow streets and the old, tall, beautiful houses, and you could go over there or you could turn left and walk along the quais with the length of the Ile St.-Louis and then Notre-Dame and Ile de la Cite opposite as you walked.
In the bookstalls along the quais you could sometimes find American books that had just been published for sale very cheap.
“Seeing Paris” in the 1920’s
This film clip was also featured on Hemingway’s Paris and offers viewers the chance to see live action of Hemingway’s Paris in the ’20s. Check it out!
I had learned already 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, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.
– from A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Wow! Thanks a lot Ernest Hemingway! I wish you would’ve brought this to my attention BEFORE I emptied my well! Now, I’ve gotta refill it, and I forgot to bring a bucket. All I have is this coffee cup, and the going is sloooow.
So, what’s one to do when there’s no inspiration? What do you do when you want to write but have no ideas? I realize that I’m not writing the next A Farewell to Arms, just this little old blog, but, still, I want to write and I’m a-strugglin’!
If you’ve ever been in this situation, as a blogger, writer, or any type of creator, I have some ideas on gaining inspiration. Here are some various strategies I have used or have considered using to spur on the creative juices.
• Do some reading! This was actually Papa Hemingway’s preferred method for filling the well (next to the making of the love): “When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing that you were writing before you could go on with it the next day,” (25). Read a book, read a blog, read a newspaper, whatever, just read!
• Look through photo albums. Bonus points: look through other people’s photo albums (buy old photos at swap meets and yard sales).
• Listen to music (see yesterday’s post on how an old playlist gave me inspiration).
• See a performance– be it music, a movie, a play, LARPers practicing, whatever.
• Make an Artist Date with a bookstore, museum, coffee shop, library, any place where you could lose yourself.
• Watch a sunrise or sunset (these actually aren’t overrated).
• Visit an old cemetery.
• Ride the full circuit on the public transit (bus, trolley, train, subway, etc.).
• People watch–airports used to be perfect for this, but a bench in a crowded area would work too. Actually, jury duty is an awesome way to get some good people-watching done. Take notes!
• Go to an author reading or Open-Mic night at a coffeeshop.
• Attend a convention.
• Take a long, hot bath.
• Visit a place that is out of your comfort zone. For example, my husband would go to InCahoots ( a country bar); I might go to HomeTown Buffet. This scene from Vegas Vacation might explain my aversion to buffets:
• Play tourist in your own neighborhood…bring a camera!
• Go to the Swap Meet.
To fill up my well yesterday, I went to a local coffeeshop and wrote like crazy! I sipped on an Arnold Palmer and listened to three guys who were playing an impromptu bluegrass set on the patio. They would take breaks to eat their brunch. I ended up planning out the entire week’s posts! They’re not intricate, painstaking reviews or reflections, but still, I got some work done! Today, I might play tourist in my own neighborhood with a camera. It’s the Weekend of Inspiration, baby!