Hemingway’s Paris Memoir Flies Off Shelves in Show of Defiance

Hemingway Writing

From Bloomberg Business:

Ernest Hemingway’s memoir about the time he spent lounging in cafes and bars in 1920s Paris has become an unlikely totem of defiance against the terrorist attacks that claimed 129 lives in the City of Light last Friday.

Hemingway’s ‘‘A Moveable Feast,’’ or “Paris est une Fete” in French, is flying off the shelves at bookstores across the French capital and is the fastest-selling biography and foreign-language book at online retailer Amazon.fr. Daily orders of the memoir, first published in 1964, three years after the American author’s death, have risen 50-fold to 500 since Monday, according to publisher Folio.

Copies have been laid among the flowers and tributes at the sites of the massacres, and people are reading the book in bars and cafes, Folio spokesman David Ducreux said Thursday. Orders surged after a BFM television interview on Monday with a 77-year-old woman called Danielle, who urged people to read the memoir as she laid flowers for the dead. The video was shared hundreds of times on social media.

I think this is a marvelous way to express solidarity with the people of Paris in the wake of last week’s horrific massacre. That said, the article’s description of A Moveable Feast as an account of the time Hemingway “spent lounging in cafes and bars in 1920s Paris” misses the mark. Yes, there are sensuous descriptions of how he and his friends “ate well and cheaply and drank well,” but the little masterpiece also reveals how Hemingway mastered the craft of fiction, including how he dealt with rejection letters. Hemingway’s vignettes of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are not to be missed.

If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy at the library or book store. And let folks know you’re doing it for Paris.

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11 thoughts on “Hemingway’s Paris Memoir Flies Off Shelves in Show of Defiance”

  1. This post reminds me of what Colbert said about showing solidarity and making human connections. You know, because a lot of people are mocking those who make their facebook profiles into the French flag colors because really it’s nothing, right? But at the end of the day, anything you can do to show you’re concerned, to show you care, is worth something.

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    1. I am half way through it. It is lean and elegantly written but I can’t help feeling that it succeeded at the tail end of a renowned author’s life in a way that it wouldn’t have for someone previously unknown.

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      1. I agree, and it is wonderful to read about the characters of the people Hemingway knew. His portrayal of Ezra Pound was especially interesting to me, because the most students ever learn about him in school is that Pound wrote some abstruse poems called Cantos and was a Fascist.

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