Reading Hemingway in Paris

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Though academics might scold me for holding off on Hemingway, I had the unique pleasure of discovering his memoir, A Moveable Feast, in perfect time with my trip to Paris. I began the book on the TGV train from Paris to St. Raphael, and his rich descriptions of café crèmes at the Cloiserie de Lilas and Café de Flore were fond echoes of my own experience there (though I didn’t have the pleasure of fraternizing with Fitzgerald while in Paris, I was with friends that seemed to me equally fun, but far more stable companions than Scott). Hemingway writes beautifully – his sparse prose both compulsively readable and elegant at the same time. The true strength of the book, though, is his honesty. Published posthumously, if Hemingway had qualms about the fact that the finished product includes descriptions of Fitzgerald questioning his ‘manhood’ and his own personal affairs, he was not there to voice them. Given the way he writes himself into the story, a blunt – and sometimes harsh – character, I doubt he would object. Each page is bursting with potential pull quotes, though they are never strained or forced. I could certainly go on longer about the impact the book had on me, but instead I’ll conclude with a few of my favorite quotes from the memoir:

1. “Never go on trips with anyone you do not love”

2. “People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”

3. “By then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it by finding something better

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