Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Hustling to finish reading the book as the lender got impatient over a year and asked back for it.
It gives snapshots of Paris after the first World War and I was glad the Bookclub did Sebastian Faulks' 'Birdsong' so it added to the mental picture I had of France in that time.
There's a lot of name dropping of ex-pat American writers and their quirks but the saddest one was about Scott Fitzgerald and his wife who seemed jealous of him and accused him of being deficient in the sexual department - how devastating that must have been for him as she was the only woman he had had sex with! In fact, it seems surprising to be in Paris where there was a more open attitude towards that in the 1920's that he simply didn't have the courage to seek solace with another woman.
This book left me feeling a bit sad as being unfamiliar with American authors I read their biographies in Wikipedia and was saddened that their personal lives were such a mess - Mr Hemingway being a victim of the Electro-shock 'therapy' for depression (currently reading about that fiasco in The Shock Doctrine) which spiralled him down even deeper and he killed himself. Apparently a significant percentage of artistic people suffer from depression - like Beethovan. Interesting maybe deep introspection triggers something?
Fascinating to me was how Hemingway's life revolved around drinking and gambling.  Also interesting for me was the description of the primitive skiing in Austria.
I thought he regretted the affair that destroyed his marriage - and he ends the book saying that was the period when he was very poor and very happy.
I'm ending with a perceptive quote of his: 'Those who attract people by their happiness and their performance are usually inexperienced. They do not learn how not to be overrun, and how to go away.'

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