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October 25, 2010

A Moveable Feast

October's read was A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I preferred that version to the updated, revised edition, though I bought it as well to compare. (There is also a Kindle version if you decide you want to download it today after reading about it.)

I love this book, it contains what I think is the best last sentence of any book:

But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.

My main quibble with the "restored" edition is that it no longer ends with that beautiful sentence. Though that edition does have some additional detail about Scott Fitzgerald. The whole section on the Fitzgeralds was really interesting to me, and after reading I searched online for all the biographical data I could find on Zelda. Mad as a hatter but truly a fascinating person.

But the main reason I love this book and picked it for October was that the location is a leading character in the book. Paris in the 1920s, so perfectly described, the wine they drank, the steaks they ate, the butter sauces and the bars where the poor, smelly drunks congregated became not just a backdrop but another point of the narrative.

The passages where he talks about writing were interesting to me in a way that didn't grab me the first time I read this book about a decade ago. On page 12 he says that when he doesn't know what to write he reminds himself:

"Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know."

I think this is probably the best advice anyone could give a writer.

Heminway has always seemed larger than life to me, an icon, an adventurer. But even though I have read up on him, I didn't know until reading A Moveable Feast that he let the cat be his kid Bumby's babysitter. I'm about as crazy as cat ladies come and even I wouldn't do that. Well, maybe Roy could have been up to the task ...

So what did you think of A Moveable Feast? And which version did you read? Did you enjoy reading about Paris? Were you surprised to read about other famous writers through Hemingway's lens? Did you expect to hate this book? (I know there are some avowed Heminway avoiders out there, but to me this book is nothing like any of his fiction work.)

And later I'll pick one commenter out of the comments to win a surprise prize, yarn and books and a mixed CD I made and who knows what-all goodies may be inside. Oh! And a copy of next month's book -- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. And to weigh it all down I am including the big hardbook book Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts: Basic Techniques for Sewing, Applique, Embroidery, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing, plus 150 Inspired Projects from A to Z. It's awesome and I wanted to keep it for myself but I got it as a promotional item and promised I would give it away to one of my readers. It weighs about ten tons, so you know it's packed with Martha-y goodness!

Finally, here's a Moveable Bob:

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Posted by laurie at October 25, 2010 7:29 AM