In talking about Easter last week as being a moveable feast, it reminded me of the Hemingway book by that title.
Whereas I was familiar with most of the classic Hemingway novels, I only heard of A Moveable Feast when I watched the Ken Burns’ Hemingway special a few years back and then caught the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris.
Both of those events made me check out A Moveable Feast which I enjoyed much more so that his other “big” novels that I Cliff Noted. (Old Man and the Sea may be the exception here because it was so short and easy to read that I did not have to Cliff Note it.)
A Moveable Feast though, I read in its entirety and as stated enjoyed it for several reasons. First off, if any of you have never been to Paris and would like to do so without leaving your living room, just read A Moveable Feast and/or watch that Midnight in Paris movie.
Based on the half dozen or so times that I have been to Paris, Hemingway’s observations in A Moveable Feast on why and what about Paris is so great are right on. His descriptions of the city, its people, the vibe, and the thrill of just being in Paris are so on target that as you read his words you can imagine yourself sitting in some sidewalk cafe, knocking back a cool one and checking out some sexy mademoiselle at the next table knowing full well that she would never give you the time of day. (OK , maybe I’m relating a little too much about my experiences, or lack thereof, in Paris.)
However, a second and more relevant reason that A Moveable Feast resonated with me had to do with Hemingway discussing three of life’s more intriguing mysteries – love, sex and friendship (click here.)
As for the love and sex, Hemingway had more of a feast than he could handle in A Moveable Feast. (Funny, but when I just now misspelled the word Moveable, one of the Spell-Check-suggested-correct words came up as Misbehave. How did it know that?!) Hemingway was unofficially on his honeymoon in Paris with first wife Hadley when he began having an affair with one of Hadley’s best friends Pauline who would eventually become wife number 2. In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway even does an extended explanation about how tough it is to be in love with two women at the same time and how it is a special kind of hell. Note that this prompted me to put the book down and say “Hey dude, loving one is tough enough, you had to be crazy to tackle two at the same time.” (The John Hiatt lyric “I’m so easily led when the the little head does the thinking” comes to mind also. I’ll pass that tune along in a minute or two for you.) Even Hemingway’s friend F. Scott Fitzgerald warned him that trying to have and to please two women only ensures that he will end up with neither of them. That is ultimately what happened to Papa Hemingway who after divorcing Pauline went on to wives 3 and 4.
All that love and sex stuff aside however, the best entrees in A Moveable Feast involve the feast of friends that Hemingway presents, discusses and dissects. Here is a good summary of how he dealt with his many friends in Paris:
While this critique makes Hemingway sound like a good friend, the overall sense I got from A Moveable Feast seemed that while he may have been good company to hang out and get drunk with, nevertheless he was a little slack on being what I call a true friend because he was too self centered to do so. From the little I read about him too, it seemed that eventually he fell out with and/or turned on many of the folks he called a friend. When it comes to having and being a good friend, Papa may have been too much of a rolling stone.
But then again who am I to evaluate what kind of friend Hemingway, or for that matter anyone, is or is not? I only know that in my little country store of time spent here on this terra firma, having a number of close family and friends who stay in touch with me and vice versa has made my life much richer and fuller. I don’t think that Papa Hemingway could, nor ever would have made such a statement.
As promised then, here is the John Hiatt “Little Head” tune; but since I have played his version previously, check out this cover by Davy Knowles:
P.S. Someone once described drinking in Buzzy’s Country Store as being similar to attending a cocktail party where you are free to move around. If you find yourself trapped in a conversation at the Store counter, the bar or the porch, you are always free to move around to one of the other places. Thus maybe Buzzy’s can lay claim to being A Moveable Something. A Moveable Waterhole maybe?