This pairing is brought to you today by Melissa at Avid Reader’s Musings. As you’ll see below, Melissa is an extraordinary writer in all of the posts she writes, but my favorite part of her blog is a series she did recently called Reading the States, which shares not only important books from each state, but also the authors and bookstores (!) that call it home. And now, I’ll let her take it away.
Ernest Hemingway is well-known for his over-the-top masculine characters and testosterone-driven adventures. From bull fights to battles from fishing to safaris, Hemingway rarely reflects on the quiet moments in life. A Moveable Feast is the exception to that rule and because of that it’s my favorite of his books.
The book is a memoir of his time as a penniless writer in Paris in the 1920s was published posthumously. His hours were spent writing in cafes and drinking with his friends; Joyce, Pound and Fitzgerald to name a few. During this time Hemingway and his wife Hadley, (whose fictionalized story was told in the recent novel The Paris Wife), struggled to make ends meet, but always found money for drink.
“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”
I first read this book shortly after moving back to the states from London. I had visited Paris multiple times while in Europe and the beauty of the city was still fresh in my mind. I’m sure that had a huge impact on my appreciation for the book, just as your personal experiences always have an effect on how you interpret what you’re reading. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Paris alongside Hemingway.
I don’t think this is a perfect book. Many critique it for the rosy view of Hemingway and negative view of many others. Hemingway wrote it; take his words with a big grain of salt. Of course he’s going to make himself look good and idealize that time period. The thing that hooked me is his description of the places and the people. It made me want to be there on the Left Bank perusing books in the Shakespeare and Co. or taking a road trip with Fitzgerald. Everything felt so real to me. It was the first time I felt completely drawn in to one of his books and I think it’s because he was actually connected to that life, so he couldn’t help pouring those feelings into the book.
I’m going to pair this book with a Jacques Bourguignon Chablis, a crisp white wine from France that’s perfect with seafood. You can find it at Trader Joe’s for less than $10! If you’re adventurous I’d recommend a plate of oysters as well to get the full effect of Hemingway’s beautiful description of one lunch on Paris…
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
P.S. from Nikki: Is this not just the most perfect post ever? Wine and Hemingway, visions of Paris and an eternal kind of youth? Sigh. Makes me even want to eat oysters.