A Moveable Feast :: Week One

Welcome to the A Moveable Feast read-a-long! We’re reading this book through February. You can see the reading schedule and guidelines on the Starting Post Page.

Week One: Read to Chapter 9


Hmmm… how can I put this considering I’m the one who chose this book… I’m not thrilled. This is the first Hemingway that I’ve read, and while I rreeeeaaallllyyyy appreciate him from an historical aspect (and he doesn’t even seem so bad as a person yet), I’m not so keen on his writing. That said, I’m going to need some of you Ernest-lovers to help me “see the light” (if there is any). That’s not to say that I don’t have an opinion about what we’ve read (have I ever not had an opinion?).

It’s fun to see the writing advice that is sprinkled in the book… Hemingway tells us that he always ends his work days while he still has ideas in his head for tomorrow (so he has somewhere to start), and he takes his mind off of his work by reading — so he doesn’t over think what he is going to write next. This is so contrary to everything I’ve been told from writers… but I LOVE it, as it makes so much sense to me. It will be my new technique – and I think it will help me from going crazy too early. What do you think of his methods?

Is it just me, or does Gertrude Stein seem like she was a pompous ass? She is clearly not viewed as one of the greats of her generation – yet she has so many opinions and so much power over some of the “greatest” artists of her day (Hemingway and Picasso for starters). Hemingway even says that he can’t remember her “ever speaking well of any writer who had not written favorably about her work or done something to advance her career except for Ronald Firbank… and Scott Fitzgerald” (59). How unappealing is that? I did laugh at the idea of her forgiving Hemingway and his wife for “being in love and married – time would fix that…” (p.24), but didn’t get why she always made Alice (her partner) entertain the wives away from her and the husbands. As a powerful woman (in a time when women didn’t wield very much power), one would think she’d have a broader mind than that. And her views on homosexuality; I didn’t know whether to laugh at the antiquity, be surprised, or both! What do you make of these remarks of hers?

The main thing is that the act male homosexuals commit is ugly and repugnant and afterwards they are disgusted with themselves… they are disgusted with the act and they are always changing partners and cannot be really happy… In women it is the opposite. They do nothing that they are disgusted by and nothing that is repulsive and afterwards they are happy and they can lead happy lives together.

Gertrude Stein (page 30)

Is it just me or has Hemingway forgotten punctuation in this book? Was it him or his editors (maybe those of you who have read his other work can let us know if this is a normal Hemingway experience)? The sentences seem to go on and on with no structure at all and then they seem to go onto another subject and then he seems to talk about another person and then…

I’m not going to lie that I was delighted to read about my (and many of our) beloved Shakespeare and Co. and Sylvia Beach, and that he mentioned how incredible kind to him she was; I do picture her like that. Though, when telling his wife about it their conversation goes like this:
“My,” she said. “We’re lucky that you found the place.”
“We’re always lucky,” I said and like a fool I did not knock on wood. There was wood everywhere in that apartment to knock on too. There are many things Hemingway could have been referring to in this exchange… to what do you think he was referring?

In talking about the books stands he passed and about the ships that came from other countries, Hemingway refers to books that are bound by their owners being more valuable than books that were not. I am not familiar about this part of literary history, is anyone else? I’ve tried to look into it, but have come up with a lot of results that do not apply (like bound feet… what?).

Two (kind of fun) side notes:

1.) While in Paris this December I stayed, literally, around the corner from Hemingway’s flat on Notre-Dame-des-Champs. It is no longer there (in fact, the address does not even exist… the street just skips right over it; very weird). I’ve included a picture.

What now stands in the place of Hemingway's building (but has a different number address than his).

2.) Any Gilmore Girls fans? Remember when Rory and Logan were discussing Hadley losing Ernest’s manuscript? Looks like they BOTH had it wrong. It was a train station and the manuscripts (plural) were stolen!

RORY [reaching into his bookbag]: I want to see your paper.

LOGAN: Your mind is a mysterious thing.

RORY: Come on. I’m dying to know what your take on ethics is. For instance, are you for it or against it?

LOGAN: No way. It’s too dangerous.

RORY: Dangerous?

LOGAN: I actually worked on this thing. It goes from my hand to the professor’s.

RORY: Like I’m going to lose it.

LOGAN: I saw you with your coins, plus let’s remember Hemingway.

RORY: What about him?

LOGAN: Trusted that wife of his with the only copy he had of the novel he was working on. The silly woman lost it.

RORY: Not so. I know the story. Hemingway left it on a plane. His wife had nothing to do with it.

LOGAN: That’s not the way I heard it.

RORY: Well, you heard it wrong.

Who’s Reading Along:

** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly A Moveable Feast discussion (see below for more information).**

Susan E
Annie @ButteryBooks
Jenn O. @ Lit Endeavors
Jean Brown
Reese M.
Ashley J.
Ashley W.
Meg @ A Bookish Affair
Tina B

Friendly Reminders:

  • If you are participating and I don’t have you on this list, please let me know in the comments section. I did not include people who said ‘maybe’ so if you have changed your mind and are definitely reading along with us, let me know so I can add you. Also, if you are not going to be able to join us anymore please let me know and I will take you off the list. 
  • Comments from the previous week’s reading will be closing Thursday afternoon (before the next discussion takes place on Friday). If you would like to be part of the discussion, please remember to comment before then. 
  • Each week, on Friday, share your thoughts about the previous week’s reading. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments. Regardless, you MUST check in each week (two weeks without a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). You may have only one “off week” (which may not be the last week of reading for obvious reasons) and still be kept on the list, but you must let me know in the comment section by saying something like, “I’m catching up,” or “I’m still reading.” ***for all week’s discussions please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others***
  • If you go for two weeks without commenting in my weekly update comments section, I will assume you are no longer participating and will take you off of the list (*NEW GUIDELINE*, in order to get back onthe list, you need to a.) Have missed no more than two weeks of discussion, b.) Let me know you would like to be on the list again, and c.) consistently be part of the discussion for the next two weeks after requesting to be put back on the list.). This is in no way to be discouraging, but helps to keep the read-a-long organized (and helps me remember who’s completed what read-a-long…there (ahem) might be something fun for different levels of participants at the end of the year! Thanks!

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74 thoughts on “A Moveable Feast :: Week One

  1. So far I’m finding this a pretty easy read but I don’t really feel like Hemingway is pulling me in as much as I thought he would. This is my first Hemingway book and I guess I expected to be blown away a little bit more with his writing. His writing just seems to meander a little bit too much for me in this book. I’m not totally turned off by his writing now. I’m wondering how his fiction books are though. Do they meander as much? Is the punctuation that bad? Is this his style of writing in his fiction books as well?

    I kind of thought that I would like this book a little bit more too. I guess I had this really romanticized idea of what it would be like to read about Paris and all of these authors that I really admire (although many of the authors haven’t appeared so far in the reading). I’m holding on to hope!.

  2. This probably isn’t the best introduction to Hemingway’s work, I can see where some people may feel let down. I felt the same way when I first read it, I actually don’t remember ANYTHING about the book. After reading a great deal of his fiction and learning more about his life, though, I actually quite enjoyed the first portion of our reading.

    Gertrude Stein does seem like a pompous ass, I really can’t stand her and I have no idea what to think about her views on homosexuality. It seemed as though she was trying to justify her own relationship, in a way. Perhaps she herself wasn’t comfortable with her orientation? I really don’t know what else to make of it, and even that seems a stretch. Why would she be so open about it if it made her uncomfortable? This does, however, seem to contrast a great deal with the attitude in The Great Gatsby, which seemed pretty nonjudgmental about it (I know it’s another book, another topic, but that really stood out to me because they discuss a similar time period).

    I do wish that Hemingway had used the comma a bit more consistently (or at all). His sentences do tend to get a bit… muddled. However, the simplicity of his writing, in that he doesn’t use more words than necessary, makes it bearable for me. I wonder what effects the publishing of the book had on the original manuscript, since it was published posthumously, and if that had any bearing on the punctuation.

    The knock on wood remark I took to be a nod to his several failed marriages. He’s talking about how lucky they are, but he has three wives after Hadley. Perhaps, though, he could be referencing future events that occur throughout the reading. Or maybe just life in general. According to the note at the beginning, his last revisions of the book were made in 1960, just a year before he killed himself. His perspective, at that time, could have made an impact on the tone of the book.

    I also really liked his reference to the influence the Impressionists had on his writing, which I went into more detail about in my post. I also think that the mention of The Lost Generation is of importance, as Hemingway represents that generation more so than any other writer of his time. This generation is characterized by disillusionment and a breakdown of traditional moral values and it’ll be interesting to see how that attitude plays a role in the rest of the book.

    Here’s a link to my post: http://treesandink.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/a-moveable-feast-read-a-long-week-1/

    • (I recognized you by your picture… see, that’s the benefit of doing more than one Read-a-Long!).

      I agree, his state of mind (heart) at the time of working on this book must have impacted it in some way… we should keep our eyes out for other instances like this.

      Yes, the pompous ass named the generation – and in such an UNglamorous way! I thought I had heard that Hemingway named it, but this book clears that right up.

      Yes! Ashley – thank you for reminding me… I too loved the way the painters influenced him. I had never thought about this before (as a writer) but now that I am thinking about it – I realize that when I walk through a museum and try to image the story behind the paintings – I’m CREATING a story. How lovely that Hemingway reveals that he used these stories for his work. These writer’s insights are actually something I’m really enjoying about the book. I amy have to start a list so I don’t forget them.

      • I also loved the references to how painters influenced him. I’ve dabbled in pencil sketching, writing and choir singing. I have found that by experiencing those different creative endeavors, it is easy to have one influence the other. I was often influenced by music I would be listening to if I was sketching something more abstract. I can totally see how his writing could be influenced by his interest in painters.

  3. I have the feeling that if a former incarnation of myself was around in 1920s Paris, I may have slapped Hemingway in the face once or twice! First of all, I’m a fiercely loyal person, and I feel like he is taking awfully personal cheap shots at people that he worked with and visited the homes of and otherwise was friends with. I’m not sure if he is the pompous ass, or Stein, or both. In the little bit of background reading I’ve done, I learned that, for example, H. was not nearly as destitute as he portrays himself in what we’ve read so far. He had a regular salary from his newspaper work. I also love embellished writing! Dickens or Bronte going off on one of their convoluted, insane word-fests? Bring it on! There are many ways to write, and I kinda hate that Hemingway is implying that his short, unpunctuated sentences are the only way to “get to the truth.”

    I like the stories better when I read them as fiction. There are some gut punches in there. He can certainly throw those. Like the one you quote above about the knock on wood. It could refer to the fact that he divorced soon after that (because he was having an affair…ugh) but I think it can also be more generalized about how ephemeral luck and happiness are in each of our lives. Phrases like this are what I think he does best. Really fresh ways of saying these eternal things.

    • It’s interesting that you mention you like the book better when read as fiction, because I keep having to remind myself that it’s not fiction. Maybe because we just came from Gatsby, where Nick was narrating and therefore using the word “I”? And also because one would imagine that if it were your life, you’d have a bit more detail and feeling to add to the story?

    • @Jacqueline, it irks me too that he claims his short, understated writing is the only way to get at truth. I do enjoy his writing a lot (although so far not in this book that much) but that’s such a narrow-minded and arrogant lens to look at literature through, that it really bothers me!

      ps. I wanted to let you know that I finally finished Anna Karenina a couple weeks ago! You were so encouraging throughout the read-a-long so I thought I’d update you. Sadly, it wasn’t my favorite but I am really, really glad to have read it.

      • Sally, that’s so good that you finished it! It was a biggie. It is one of those books that’s so talked about and referenced. Even when you don’t love those, they are great to have under your belt.

        Horray for read-a-longs!

  4. Oh, oh, oh! I also wanted to share this:


    Interesting if you are reading the “restored” edition (as I am, and especially if you’ve read the introductions in the restored versions).

    I don’t know what to believe, but the fact that I put restored in quotes above makes me think my subconscious feels that this restored business is nonsense. That being said, I’m not sure the “original” is what Hemingway would have finally published had he lived either. What do you think?

    • Wow. That is actually very upsetting. I may have to go to the library to see if I can find an older version to compare. I really like the author’s arguments about the duty of a publisher and would like to know more of the story. I’ll have to look into it. I also will be looking into how Hemingway changed the style of writing for future writers (or, rather, thinking about that)… that gives me a better sense of appreciation. Thanks for the article, Jacqueline– as always you find the coolest additions to our education!

    • This was FASCINATING. I have the “restored” edition myself, so this article really hit home. I came into this completely blind, so assumed that is was cobbled together as stated in the introductions. I love the fact that it may have been reworked to put Pauline in a better light, it will change my reading of the book, maybe even for the better. This was a lovely find!

  5. I’m afraid I’m going to bow out of this one. I wasn’t sure about this choice for me, since I came into it hating Hemingway for being so important to the cult of the masculine (especially his relation to the comic book Cerebus, which is a whole ‘nother lengthy, disgusting story), and what I read didn’t change my mind enough to continue. The run-on sentences especially were very difficult for me.

    I found that linked article, about the way the grandson “restored” the book to take sides, very interesting. I also didn’t realize the book was a memoir written 30 years later and finished just before his suicide, although the link says it’s based on contemporaneous notes he made.

    You asked about the writing advice … For me, as a writer (of reviews), I can’t relax by reading other people’s reviews or essays about my subject matter, because I risk being influenced by their points and style. I can see it maybe working if you switch genres and formats — so a fiction writer might read some non-fiction research. But the most important thing is that what works for me or him or you might be very different, and that’s ok.

    I look forward to joining the next read-along, Wallace, and I’ll keep seeing what others thought of the book.

    • I totally understand. I remember that you were hesitant in the first place – you gave it a try and now know for a fact that it isn’t for you.

      About the writer’s advice.. I can’t read others reviews before I write a review either – but with other writing (non-fiction and fiction pieces) I can get obsessive about it (did I use the right word? Did I go too far? Do I need to get out of bed at 1 am to fix this or that), so I like the idea of drowning in someone else’s work to push my own writer’s neurosis out. But definitely it has to be something that each writer chooses for themselves. I hadn’t thought (or heard) about this tactic and rather thought it fit for me.

      Looking forward to having you for other read-a-longs!

  6. I’ve only finished the 4th one. But so far I like this book. I also feel Stein is somewhat pompous ass. But as a person out of the field of literature/art, I always suspect many artists are pompous asses :-p My husband is a (nice) artist. In my opinion, a few of his artists friends are just pompous asses (which I didn’t tell…) But I could tell why my husband still likes them. He shares a long history of friendship with them, knows better about their good sides, and therefore more tolerant of their, if I may say so, problematic personalities, than I am :-p

    I like the end of the 4th essay, when he said he didn’t knock wood. I don’t know much yet about Hemingway’s personal life, but I feel he expressed a lot of sentiments in a very simple way.

    • Hi Ginko… just to be clear, are you the one I have as ginkoseto? If so, will you be commenting as Ginko or ginkoseto?

      I think people with power (in general) can be pompous asses, and Stein certainly had a lot of power in her field. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see if her personality was always this way (i.e. does pompousness propel people to the top of their field even if they don’t deserve to be there), or if she became this way after getting some attention?

      • Hi Wallace, yes I am the gingkoseto. I often don’t remember which account I use to login since there are all these options of wordpress, twitter, etc. But I will try to keep it consistent and login with Gingko. Thanks!

  7. Well, I’m trying to decide if I want to respond to prior comments or go with the notes I’d been taking as I read/listened this week. I’ll post my notes first, and then pick up on hers.
    EDITED TO ADD that I had this entire post done and then went to check on one of the links above and DUMPED everything. Thank goodness I’d composed most of it on NOTEPAD.

    I had started listening to this as an audio, and then couldn’t decide if I didn’t like the prose because of the narrator, John Bedford Lloyd, or if it was the prose itself, so I downloaded an e-copy to read with my eyes. It’s NOT the narrator, it really is not so great prose writing. My memories of Hemingway were a bit different from what I’m being presented here. This almost sounds like the ramblings of a high school student who was told he had to write the story of his summer vacation. After awhile, I got used to the structure, but I’m not sure I’m too fond of it. Also, I find my perceptions being colored by just having finished The Paris Wife last month, a much more eloquently written portrayal of the same time period, albeit from Hadley’s viewpoint. I sort of resent Hemingway’s use of “my wife” instead of using her name! Is that how he thinks of her? As a disembodied “wife”? I realize and must keep reminding myself that Paris Wife is fiction, but it certainly dovetails well with Hemingway’s memories.

    As for his relationship with Gertrude Stein, I was exposed to her writing while in college, although for the life of me I can’t remember anything but YUCK. So on the one hand I was surprised that Hemingway seemed to hang on her every word, but then when I thought about the whole picture he is painting of a young man, not as self-confident as he might outwardly appear, I can see where he would welcome the affirmation he thinks he is getting from GS. She certainly was full of herself. YES WALLACE, she comes across as a pompous ass.

    Imagine my delight when I saw a post this morning about Shakespeare and Company bookstore showing how wonderfully cozy and inviting the place is. It really sets a scene where people would wonder in and pick up all the classics – there was no TV to compete with, no smartphones, and all there was was a society of wonderfully literate, inquiring and social minds wanting to share everything they learned.

    His description of the Lost Generation just spoke to me. “…I thought who is calling who a lost generation…all generations were lost by something and always had been and always would be.” I’ve been reading quite a bit with the “War through the Generations” group about World War I and thinking how demoralizing the whole episode was for several generations: the elders who lost their sons and heirs, the generation who fought who lost their lovers, fathers, and for those who returned, those who lost their physical wholeness, their mental acumen, and their psychological integrity. Hemingway is definitely a member of the latter group and it is already beginning to show in this work.

    And finally, the food descriptions. I am a lover of food, and must say that his descriptions of food in the chapter “Hunger was good discipline” almost drove me on a midnight raid of the frig.

    Now…for other comments. Punctuation: it seems to me that Hemingway is writing exactly as he must have spoken. He uses compound sentences rather than periods. He certainly uses more sentence structure than some others such as Saramago, but the cadence is as difficult in print as it is in audio, until you sit back and realize that how he speaks. He is telling his story. My most coherent memory of his other writing is The Old Man and the Sea and my memory is of a discussion we had in class about the simplicity of his writing. I’m sure if we met him, particularly at this point in his life (aged 21-25) that’s exactly how he would have spoken.

    I too am puzzled by the “bound books” discussion. I know that early on, having books bound into permanent leather covers was certainly something only the truly wealthy could afford. I have a call into one of my rare book dealer friends to see what I get for an answer.

    I’ve never been to Paris so I enjoyed Wallace’s personal add-on to the discussion. I’m always reluctant to visit places I’ve formed solid pictures of in my head, because too often my expectations are so different from the reality.

    • That is a fantastic picture of Shakespeare and Company! I was just there a couple of months ago and can tell you that it is worth many visits (I went there 3 times in the 10 days I was there, if that tells you anything.. and would have gone more had I not been with other people).

      Your post initially went to spam (don’t ask me why, the system’s been screwy lately), but I just rescued it! I hope others will get to see your picture too.

      I am not a foodie, so I’m going to have to start paying more attention to the food parts! All I can remember so far is the coffee that he’s been talking about. Must pay better attention.

      By the way, you are the FIRST person I know to have read Stein. Literally. Haha! Good on you!

  8. Like most people who commented already, I’m having mixed feelings about this work too. I agree with Ashley that this probably isn’t the best introduction to Hemingway. His writing is usually extremely evocative and moving for me but I’m not really having that experience with this. Wallace, maybe read The Old Man and the Sea during this read-a-long. It’s so short that you can read it in one sitting and I think it will make you more appreciative of his writing.

    His comments on his writing habits also really stood out to me. Isn’t it fascinating to read about famous writers’ processes and methods? With regard to Gertrude Stein, I also didn’t know what to make of her comments on homosexuality. But I do have some insight into her treatment of ‘wives’ via my college women’s studies class: She’s considered pretty contentious by modern feminists because she believed that genius and masculinity went hand in hand. From what I understand, in her relationship with Alice, she considered Alice the ‘wife’ figure and she was the more dominating, masculine ‘husband?’ (although she would probably have disagreed with that term) figure. Hence, Alice was relegated to entertaining the wives. Presumably Stein includes herself in the category of geniuses, by virtue of her adopting a more masculine persona. It’s interesting to me that she had such a binary view of relationships and gender in a way. Although I do that she was very politically conservative. She’s a super interesting historical figure in my opinion.

    • Wow… thank you for that information. She was such a strange bird, wasn’t she? A complete paradox. I can’t tell if I sincerely dislike her for her views, feel sorry for her, or both. The PC thing to say would be both (probably), but I lean towards disliking her. Especially after reading a bit of what Sylvia Beach had to say about her – it wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t grand. She wasn’t as enamored with Stein as Hemingway seems to be. Perhaps because Beach was also a lesbian but had more equality in her relationship (even though she was the younger) and she didn’t seem to regard men as being better than women. Then again, Beach produced something that was invaluable to many people, while Stein mostly sat on her criticism. Perhaps Stein had to be the way she was in order to feel relevant? We’ll probably never know, but it’s certainly interesting to think about.

  9. Oh dear, I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but I’m loving it. Back in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s we (my friends and I) read everything he wrote. He was extremely popular then. So for me, I’m looking at Moveable Feast as if I were talking/listening to Hemingway talk about an earlier time in his life. It feels more like a diary that he probably had no intention of publishing. I certainly don’t remember all those run-on sentences in his other books.

    I feel we also need to look at Gertrude Stein through the lens of the era in which she lived and when Hemingway met her. Her behavior was unusual for that time. Back then the conventional women were soft spoken. No one thought a woman’s brain could handle big thoughts. Gertrude Stein knew better and set out to establish herself on equal footing with men. Consequently, I’m sure most men saw her as a pompous ass, although brilliant. She didn’t want to talk to the wives so she had her partner (I think it was Alice Tolkas) talk to them. She’s an important figure in both literature and the advancement of women.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of the book. I posted my initial Moveable Feast on my blog today. It’s here. I can’t wait to see what other adventures Hemingway has in Paris.

    • I’m enjoying it too, Margot! If anything, I’m loving the insight into his thought process. He’s not my favorite writer, but he certainly read an interesting, exciting life.

    • Good points Margot! Your comments help me understand the book better. I always dream of the “hippie” era.
      Good analysis on Stein (although so far I still don’t know who she is, sounds like she was a celebrity!)
      Although this is my first time reading this book, “a moveable feast” was a highly quoted term in my college time. Many of our alumni say our university is “a moveable feast”. I like this concept and believe anyone who has adopted some sort of “moveable feast” in his/her youth can be considered lucky. :-D

    • I am having problems with some of the attitudes in the book, but I am very much enjoying reading it! I am eating the chapters up like candy, in fact :) A piece we’ll discuss next week, the Ford Madox Ford one, is so great. I’ll zip my lips til next week! :)

    • I agree, Margot—I am seeing this book as a sort of diary. The run-on sentences are annoying and leave me breathless.
      I see Stein’s behavior similar to a sexist man. However, it is easier to forgive considering the time. Perhaps I am showing my own prejudice when I say it strikes me as odd for a gay person to be politically conservative! Her opinion on gay sex regarding gender is so strange and narrow. She is one interesting character!

    • Your reasoning on Stein is exactly why I find it so strange. A woman, who had placed herself so squarely in a man’s world, putting other women in a box. Especially a woman who was as unconventional as she. I find that unappealing for any time, but especially in an era where women were already fighting for the right to vote (both abroad and in the US), one would think she would have used her “power” to try to help equalize the sexes rather than keep hers down?

  10. I’m with Margot on this one. I am thoroughly enjoying A Moveable Feast. I am reading the 1964 version which was edited by this wife Mary. I was definitely curious about the “revised” version so I downloaded that to my Kindle yesterday.

    The most obvious difference between the two versions in the first week’s reading is that the 3rd chapter of the 1964 version, “Une Generation Perdue”, has been shifted to the 7th chapter in the revised version. I only skimmed the revised version but did find several changes, such as the example below.

    “My wife had a horse one time at Auteuil named Chevre d’Or that was hundred and twenty to one and leading by twenty lengths when he fell at the last jump with enough savings on him to keep us six months. We tried never to think of that. We were ahead on that year until Chevre d’Or.”
    “My wife had a horse one time at Auteuil name Chevre d’Or that was a hundred and twenty to one and leading by twenty lengths when he fell at the last jump with enough savings on him to — . We tried never to think to do what. We were ahead on that year but Chevre d’Or would have –. We didn’t think about Chvre d’Or.”

  11. I am absolutely loving the discussion going on here! I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this having only read The Old Man and the Sea, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I am not very educated on regards to Stein but I did feel as if she was a bit abrasive. I will have to read more about her and Margot’s thoughts have helped me shape her character a bit. I’m actually enjoying this book so far. I do feel like I need to do more research because I have never been to Paris so I’m not at all familiar with the streets, stores, and such. I can see from the postings today that I can glean much needed information from my well-read readers!

  12. My previous post went to your spam! Please check for it!
    I am absolutely loving the discussion going on here! I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this having only read The Old Man and the Sea, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I am not very educated on regards to Stein but I did feel as if she was a bit abrasive. I will have to read more about her and Margot’s thoughts have helped me shape her character a bit. I’m actually enjoying this book so far. I do feel like I need to do more research because I have never been to Paris so I’m not at all familiar with the streets, stores, and such. I can see from the postings today that I can glean much needed information from my well-read readers!

  13. I went in to this read-along knowing I might not enjoy it, and so far, I haven’t been blown away. My only other exposure to Hemingway has been Old Man + the Sea in middle school, and The Sun Also Rises in high school, and really didn’t like either.
    Luckily, I’m reading The Paris Wife at the same time as A Moveable Feast, so it’s been helping as chapters and places seem to be overlapping – like Ernest’s meetings with Gertrude Stein. I know this is going to sound very naive, but as in Gatsby, I was shocked that people discussed sex and sexuality back in those days. Stein’s comment about homosexuality between men vs women shows up in both books, and it was jarring, once I took a step back and thought about it, I wonder if she was being so brash on purpose. The separation of the wives and men in her house seemed a bit extreme but then one has to think that she was probably ahead of her time, in equating herself with the men. I enjoyed her a little bit more in The Paris Wife (which is fiction) so that might be the author’s input more than her actual personality.

    I’m still plodding through it, may reread what we have already read before I embark on the next section – I do agree with the lack of punctuation and the fact that this is not the “normal” Hemingway I’ve read previously. Usually, his sentences were so tight and concise, but I’ve found this to be a little bit more convoluted. I agree with Margot that it feels more like a diary than any of his earlier novels. I also find Papa Hemingway to be a bit of a hard pill to swallow, so maybe reading The Paris Wife with this was not my best idea.

      • I’m enjoying it! It is told from Hadley’s perspective, and is a little dry in some parts, but so far I like it. It was interesting background on Papa though, because he refers to his mother in letters to Hadley as “that bitch”. I’m only about 1/3 into it, but it’s matching up well with the reading in A Moveable Feast.

        • I was wondering about the Paris Wife compared with the version of events in A Moveable Feast. What a great idea to read them together. I hope you’ll keep us posted on the Paris Wife as we go along?

          • I finished the Paris Wife last night, and it really colored my reaction of Ernest. I had always been lukewarm about him in the past, but now I detest him! I am disappointed to hear that this new “restored” edition of A Moveable Feast may have edited out some passages about Pauline that may have been unflattering, as she plays a large part in the end of the Paris Wife. Really enjoyable though! Matched up almost perfectly, the author really did her research.

    • I have The Paris Wife waiting for me to read. I started it while in paris in December, but decided to put it on hold until after reading this one because I thought I may understand it a bit more.

      Two other ways to get a good version of Stein is through Sylvia Beach’s writing (she was the owner of Shakespeare and Company), and also through the movie Midnight in Paris (though she is represented in a much more appealing manner in that movie).

      Interesting that you say she was ahead of her time… I feel like she was behind the times. As though she perhaps really did think men were better than women? I’m just now wondering: do you think it was possible that she was transgender? Perhaps today, she would have rather lived as a man rather than as a woman… just throwing it out there. Maybe that’s why she identified with them so much. In my experience and observation, her being a lesbian would not have done this. Her partner was a lesbian, as was Sylvia and her partner (and none were condescending to other women).

      • Wow, I never even thought of the fact that she might be transgender! I do see how that could make a little more sense than her identifying as a lesbian.

        I was reading about Stein tonight and came across this passage which seemed relevant…

        “Stein began to accept and define her pseudo-masculinity through the ideas of Otto Weininger’s Sex and Character. Weininger, though Jewish by birth, considered Jewish men effeminate and women as incapable of selfhood and genius, except for female homosexuals who may approximate masculinity. As Stein equated genius with masculinity, her position as a female and an intellectual becomes difficult to synthesize and modern feminist interpretations of her work have been called into question.”

        • Oh my gosh — so there was a whole twisted school of thinking behind this? Wow. Thanks for sharing that! I almost feel bad for Stein now… I imagine she was pretty confused about her self-worth.

          Now I want to read The Paris Wife even more. I need to read the post about the research she did (and how the family helped her). Danette (Walkie Talkie Book Club) from below in the comments did a post on it.

  14. Okay so here we go…

    1. His “writing method” (saving ideas for the next day)

    You’re right, Wallace, it is so contrary to pretty much all writing advice I’ve come across! I think it makes a lot of sense (for me anyway). I have a tendency to over-think what I want to say. More often than not, it causes me to get completely stumped.

    2. Gertrude Stein, the pompous ass

    I agree that she’s a bit of an ass, but here’s the thing: I’ve known people like that. At the risk of making a sweeping generalization, I’ve known many artistic people (including friends; and I consider myself an “artistic type”) who sort of get in their own head about how important they are…or how important their work is. I just kind of let it roll right by me because I just consider a lot of what she says as just “her way”, if that makes any sense.

    Her views on homosexuality are conveniently self-serving. It seems as though she’s justifying her own orientation to herself as much as she might be to others. By declaring that “In women it is the opposite. They do nothing that they are disgusted by and nothing that is repulsive and afterwards they are happy and they can lead happy lives together”…she sounds…I don’t know…suspiciously over-confident. Homosexuality would have been difficult to grapple with in those times (heck, these days it isn’t a bed of roses either). Methinks she doth protest too much. It’s a little sad, honestly.

    3. Hemingway…run-on much?

    The run on sentences sound like how someone would talk if you decide to read it aloud or maybe if you decide to listen to the audio book. :D Yes, a bit more punctuation would be nice. It can be a little jarring.

    4. “Knock on wood”

    I can’t imagine what would be the most likely thing he was referring to here. I think I’ve decided that it’s related to his marriage that went south.

    5. Books bound by their owners

    I wish I could offer insight, but I’m not familiar with that either. To the library! :)

    Overall, I’m enjoying the book. I do have an audio book version (as well as a Nook book) that I listened to for most of this week’s reading. I have found the audio version more pleasant so far. Something tells me it’s because I don’t have to actually read the run-on sentences. :)

  15. Ernest, meet Wallace. Wallace, Ernest Hemingway. ..master of the runaway run-on sentence; purveyor of the punctuation-free paragraph. Yes, in EVERYTHING he’s ever put a pen to.
    And I, who once bristled at Papa’s freestylin’? At some point I was hopelessly sucked in by sentences that float out into infinity and back NO commas required. CHARMED by musical multiple “ands”, the magic connectors of clauses.

    Hemingway made his own rules, which then and now makes the creative majority weak in its knees. Think about it. Ernest & Company were the expat hipster subculture of their day; for all their refinement looking down on the rich with an air of unshakeable superiority.
    And Gertrude Stein? What a TRIP! I KNOW this woman; my husband’s Aunt Henrietta in Pennsylvania! So much dislike. So much like!! WHAT is she going to say next?? And she was little Bumby’s godmother for god’s sake! I confess–Alice B. has moved way up on my reading list. (She didn’t CARE what the writers’ women had to say–there was nothing for her in that. So she made it HER woman’s job to keep them OUT of her meaningful conversations with the people who mattered.)

    Oh, and about “like a fool I did not knock on wood.” What better expression of wistfulness from the man who said “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.”

    I crave bio’s about people who fascinate me, and I like books about books; so I’m a pig in mud reading (re-reading) this. It’s not for everybody, though, by a long shot, so don’t feel like the odd duck if you’re bored to distraction!!

    • It’s funny because I don’t mind Virginia Woolf’s never-ending sentences, but his feel different somehow. Maybe they’ll grow on me?

      “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.” Did he say this about Hadley? Do you happen to remember when (early on or later in life)? So curious!

      I get why he wanted her to be Bumby’s godmother — she was important and impressive at the time. And she wielded power… who better to be networked with your kin? And speaking of kin – must hear more about your husband’s aunt! Just pompous or is she also sexist?

      Jackie — I think it’s pretty well known that Stein was quite full of herself and knew her importance. She was, in fact, important – so she had every right to think so. However, HOW she got important I’ll never know. She was a writer, but not one that was or is incredibly followed. I honestly feel like it must have been one of those things where she basically said, “I am important” with so much feeling that people believed her… and the more that believed her, the more important she became. I do realize this still happens today.

  16. I love Stein’s advice to not buy clothes but rather paintings, but things have changed and it’s rather impossible to do today. I work at an Art School and regularly try and buy student work, and each painting is always too expensive for me to purchase! I have two paintings that were not painted by me – one that was a gift and one that was a trade, and that’s it! I do like this phrase as a metaphor…avoid being a philistine, and rather cultivate the intellectual and creative.

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  18. Welp, I’m a little behind on this one, but I’m far enough in that I think I can say this is not going on my list of favorite books. I actually rather like Hemingway’s writing style, or at least it doesn’t bother me (says the girl who sometimes intentionally writes without any internal punctuation).

    I guess at this point my biggest issue is that I don’t really care about Hemingway yet? I don’t really feel any connection to him and so I’m very ambivalent about his story, to the extent that there’s really any story at all (which might be part of my problem). I do enjoy reading about Paris and I really liked the chapter about the library, but overall I’m just not really feeling this one. At least not yet. I shall persevere. :)

    • I feel the same way… I don’t care about him through this narrative. However, I do care about him in regard for history, which is why this book is still appealing to me. if I had no idea who he was, I’d not care more about him now than I did before I started reading.

  19. Hi Wallace, just thought that I’d let you know that I posted my Week One up on my blog. My post just sort of ran away on some tangents.

    I’m noticing a lot of things I hadn’t before. Like the opening of the book. Why on earth would he choose to tell us about the sewer smell and the sour smell of the drunks? Was there something he was trying to impart with this?

    I have to say, I love the “and.” There’s a certain lilting, musical quality to the sentences and the way the words roll off your tongue.

    I’m enjoying Hemingway far more than I did before and am ready to take a stab at some of his other works.

  20. Hey Wallace, I’m pretty new to this, and I jumped into the game late, so I don’t think my name was on this list (Reba).

    On to my thoughts thus far…I feel a little bit like I’m following Hemingway down a rabbit hole. As I’m reading, I keep going off on tangents, looking up events, people, etc. that he mentions, and it just leads me to more books, articles, opinions and ideas. For that, I appreciate this book. I am starting with the original edition, then supplementing my reading with the new restored edition, just to compare the differences.

    As far as the chapter where Stein and Hemingway are discussing Homosexuality, I feel like I should know the men they are referencing in their conversation, but I’ve got nothing. Stein is quit the character, I enjoyed reading everyone’s posts about her, and I find myself agreeing with many of them. if nothing else, she is a character that prompts a lot of discussion, and kudos for Hemingway for portraying her in such a way that evokes such emotion. I think this is Hemingway’s real genius. He seems like a master manipulator; of people, stories, events, history…anything that he can get his hands or mind on. And, at least for right now, I don’t mind the manipulation.

    • Hi Reba – you’ll be on the list for next week! I wanted to make sure than any late signer-uppers commented in the first week before I added them. :)

      Good point about this being a “rabbit hole” book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the map of Paris to look up where he is in his writing. That alone is worth a lot and I need to pay more attention to that.

  21. Sorry for the delay in posting! I am behind but will catch up… starting a new job has me exhausted mentally and I haven’t been able to concentrate much, but I will persevere. I LOVED reading everyone’s comments above and will hopefully be caught up by next week so that I can say something sort of intelligent!

    I, too, read The Paris Wife and LOVED it. I also had the great opportunity to meet the author and hear her research that went into the book and the interaction she has had with the Hemingway family since it was published. Hemingway kept all of his correspondence with his first wife, Hadley, and she was a beautiful writer, as well! Hadley destroyed hers, understandably, but it was fun to think about the letters she was receiving from Ernest by hearing her responses. The Paris Wife is definitely a book to look for, if you haven’t read it already, and also look for information about the author and her research… fascinating! I did a post on my blog about the author session linking to a great interview she gave:


    Enjoy your reading and sorry again for the delay in responding!

    • Looking forward to reading that post! Ashley J. said the book was very close to AMF, and the research was wonderful – so I imagine your post supports that.

      BTW, are you going to be posting as Walkie Talky Book Club? I’ve got you on the list as Danette, but I can change it. Just let me know so I know who to be looking for. Thanks!

  22. Sorry to join the party late. I’ve been enjoying A Moveable Feast from that wonderful first sentence “Then there was the bad weather.” I’m fascinated by the picture of his life that comes between the lines—times when money is there and he and Hadley travel and times when money is tight and he skips lunch and walks down the streets that don’t have a café. I’ve never thought of Hemingway as humorous, but it’s there—in his description of Gertrude Stein’s relationship with other writers: “It was like mentioning one general favorably to another general. You learned not to do it the first time you made the mistake. You could always mention a general, though, that the general you were talking to had beaten. The general you were talking to would praise the beaten general greatly and go happily into detail on how he had beaten him.” can think of people I’ve known who are somewhat like that. I’m reading the Restored Edition and the editor, Sean Hemingway, Hemingway’s grandson, claims in the introduction that this version is closest to Hemingway’s intentions based on a review of the ms, and he cites examples that seem certainly to support his case. I don’t know who’s right, but it sounds like we readalongers could be reading somewhat different books depending on which edition we’re reading.

    • We’re definitely reading different books depending on the edition. I made sure to let people know ahead of time which book I’d be reading because of this — it seems that it would be very hard to do the read-a-long with a different edition because the chapters would be all willy nilly as well (or ours are… whichever way you look at it). I’d really like to get my hands on another edition to compare them because I as pretty convinced by Sean’s introduction as well, but then I read the article…

      Anyway, you are right about his way of displaying character. And he certainly isn’t afraid to let it all out there on the page (what he things of people, etc.). This sounds morbid, but I wonder if he was already thinking he wouldn’t be around long enough to catch the flack that might come up because of it?

  23. I am enjoying this book much more than expected! I love diving into Hemingway’s many layered bohemian lifestyle. Having never traveled, it’s fun to imagine being in Paris at that time, drinking some good wine, sitting at an outdoor cafe, and just watching people.Thank you all for helping me understand this book better.
    Oh, love the description of Sylvia Beach’s library!

    p.s. Is Gertrude Stein insecure or just plain arrogant?

    • It really does get you in the travel mood doesn’t it? I’ve been looking at Paris maps much too often while reading! Regarding Gerty (my new nickname for Stein): both. I think she knew that she wasn’t becoming as important as she wanted to be as a writer so she needed to become important in another way (insecurity). Therefore, once she became important as a critic she became so important that she became arrogant.

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