AMF covers his early days in Paris with his first wife Hadley, when he was still a struggling writer and happy to make do with long walks to cafes and simple meals in order to enjoy living in that city. Paris was and still is a huge drawing point for artists of all sorts, with the 1920s being one of the cultural highlights of the century.
Hemingway not only talks about the city, he also reminiscences about the other writers he met there, such as Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and most notably, Gertrude Stein. She was a major influence on him and many of the authors and artists in her circle, which she dubbed "the Lost Generation".
One of her great interests was art,particularly paintings, and Stein often encouraged Hemingway to spend what spare money he could on it rather than clothes or even books. She acquired quite a collection herself there, although she could be rather picky about who she gave her patronage to:
What's truly charming about the book is Hemingway's descriptions of walking about Paris to check out the small shops, find a good place to have a drink or make plans with Hadley. His love for her really shines and at times, you can feel his regret about making a mess of that marriage.
While he does wax poetic about those times, Hemingway does talk about how rough things could get there, especially after his first son Bumby was born. Granted, he still managed to have enough money to travel a bit(one major chapter goes over a hectic time he had with Fitzgerald on a day trip) and occasionally gamble a little but he did also borrow a good deal from certain friends(more on that in a moment). Nonetheless, Hemingway clearly felt that any struggle to live decently in Paris was a struggle worth having. His love for the city sings out with every other page:
Sylvia started the bookshop as a place for Americans overseas to gather and exchange artistic ideals. She offered plenty of support to writers like Hemingway(who she also loaned books and money on a regular basis) and he never forgot her kindness. In fact, when Paris was liberated near the end of WWII, Hemingway was there and made sure that Sylvia was safe and sound.
Sadly, she was unable to maintain the shop after the war but Shakespeare and Company is still in existence today, run by people who keep true to Sylvia's idea of an oasis for artists. A fine legacy for both her and Hemingway, if you ask me:
Taking a revisit to Hemingway's Paris was a good time and a welcome relief from a lot of the stress going on in the world these days. The book had a resurgence in Paris recently, due to the terrible attacks there and I know that if Hemingway was still with us, he would be in mourning for the terrors being inflicted on his beloved city.
However, we must look ahead to better times and the next stop on my Hemingway tour is a reading of his short stories. I found a good collection that contains the first forty nine of his brief yet brilliant tales(including The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which I'm very interested in exploring), so that should be enough to end the summer and start my fall reading with.
To wrap this up, here is my chosen theme song for A Moveable Feast and no, it's not a French tune at all. To me, Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" has the elegant romantic feel that you get from Hemingway's fond memories of Paris: