Ernest Hemingway •
A Moveable Feast •
If you’re going to read only one book by Hemingway, make it A Moveable Feast. In this slender volume Hemingway paints a near-mythic Paris, recalled from the perspective of 40 years later, and it’s a fine, shining place to inhabit.
Every sidewalk café serves superb food for a song, its tables overflowing with writers and artists arguing passionately about their craft. Drinking to excess is a joy, not a vice. Hemingway and his wife make do with minimal heat in their walk-up flat, entrust their infant son to a babysitting cat, and bet on the horse races at Auteuil. Gertrude Stein holds her salon in rooms where paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Renoir crowd the walls; Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company lends books and extends credit with unparalleled kindness; Scott Fitzgerald writes exquisitely but tries the patience of his friends.
Nothing could induce any of them to leave, because they know they’re living in a golden place at the perfect time, one that will be eulogized and envied and dreamed of for decades to come.
Or maybe it was never like this at all: Nearly everyone present in these sketches disagreed with some aspect of Hemingway’s story. But once you’ve started reading his magical prose, you won’t care.