July 12, 2008

A Moveable Feast
Ernest Hemingway

Moveable Meaning – You know you’re in the hands of a great writer when you finish re-reading a book and find yourself with an enriched or entirely new understanding. This is the way it almost always is for me with Hemingway. The words don’t change. The sentences don’t change. But I’ve changed over the decades and I’ve always found something deeper or different in his work. Hadley and Bumby. Sylvia Beach. Gertrude Stein. Ford Maddox Ford. Ezra Pound. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway’s stories about them and others (some no doubt true; others undoubtedly fabricated) are all here on these pages as they have been for 40 years or more. There is, too, the romance of Paris:

There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.
And there is the romance of writing and struggle of making art, as well:

When they said, “It’s great, Ernest. Truly it’s great. You cannot know the thing it has,” I wagged my tail in pleasure and plunged into the fiesta concept of life to see if I could not bring some fine attractive stick back, instead of thinking, “If these bastards like it what is wrong with it?” That was what I would think if I had been functioning as a professional although, if I had been functioning as a professional, I would never have read it to them.
None of this has changed. But non sum quails eram – I am not what I used to be. And so, with this reading, I find myself contemplating the necessity of perseverance and the sheer beauty of storytelling. And I find myself, now with several years behind me as well, pondering the treats and tricks of memory.


Anonymous Mark Wukas said...

The misremembered youth of a self-aggrandizing, sentimental old drunk. It's swill. I don't trust a word of it.

August 25, 2008  

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