A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast: The Restored EditionA Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Originally published June 1st, 2013
Not at all what I was expecting. I guess finishing The Paris Wife earlier had left me assuming that Hemingway’s version would be the same, a chronological recounting of his marriage and time in Paris. Not so. To my surprise, this was a loosely integrated collection of short stories, some in Hemingway’s voice, and some not. If you read the introduction and foreword, you find out why there’s more than one edition available. Hemingway committed suicide before this book was finished. He hadn’t picked a title, chapter headings, decided on a final order, and some of the stories it seems he wasn’t done writing yet. Earlier editions are ordered differently; the work is presented as more of a complete piece by the editors. I don’t believe it actually includes more than The Restored Edition, there’s a section at the back of sketches and fragments; and the introduction details reasons for the changes made from the earlier edition and this edition. Make up your own mind. Read them both. Still can’t decide? Trundle down to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, and read* the original manuscripts. *(I don’t know if they actually let you read the originals or if you read copies. But either way…)
Other things that surprised me about this book:
I didn’t realize how much Hemingway hated Zelda Fitzgerald. He came across as blaming her for all F. Scott Fitzgerald’s troubles; his drinking, moodiness, inability to write, everything. It was almost disturbing.
Hemingway uses (to my mind) a lot of racial slurs. Not something I’m at all used to reading or hearing. And while he treats Hadley as an equal, other women don’t seem to fare so well. It’s creepy listening to Hemingway’s first son spout misogynistic sentiments he picked up from the babysitter’s husband in front of Hemingway and not see it phase Hemingway. I’m so grateful that things are different.
This was the first non-novel of Hemingway’s I read, and it was unusual to read things that were so obviously his perspective of real events. Rather than a story that was completely created. Although I gather with Hemingway there wasn’t a strict divide between reality and fiction. He would use a real life event as the starting point for fictional story, and tweak details in autobiographical events he wrote about to make a better story. I got a little thrill every time I came across a short story that I remembered being mentioned in The Paris Wife. I think my personal favorite is the one that opens the book, A Good Cafe on the Place St.-Michel. I can taste the wine, the oysters, and the coffee. I wonder what he was writing.

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