A Feast Of Immovable “1 Stars”

Memoirist Laura Janis Thompson Instagrammed the other day that she is reading it. And I happened to mention its author at the end of my previous post. Both of those are, I suppose, the reasons for this post: they got me thinking about the book again.

[Iconic Paris landmark. Photo by me, 1994 (I think).]

Ernest Hemingway’s 1964 posthumously published memoir, A Moveable Feast, is in this early 21st century among his most read books.

He had been working on it on and off and on and off for some years before his 1961 death. After he was gone, his widow Mary – his fourth wife – edited it and had it published; and to her credit she made no major changes, so what was published was evidently essentially what Hemingway had written. It focuses on his recollections of his life in Paris in the 1920s.

[From Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences, by James R. Mellow, 1992.]

Some readers approach this book thinking it is going to be some sort of Paris travel guide. It is not. It is primarily Hemingway’s perspective about what he saw and experienced – and it centers on people.

It includes memories of Gertrude Stein (“I think the reason I am important is that I know everything”), Ezra Pound (“The art of letters will come to an end before A.D. 2000. I shall survive as a curiosity.”), and probably the most famous author and personality of them all now, nearly a century on, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who after a difficult trip within France with Hemingway, was the one who prompted Hemingway’s now famous (and stinging) observation that you should never travel with someone you don’t love… which appears in this memoir in its complete context.

Since its publication the memoir has been generally praised by critics and most readers. It is probably also worth bearing in mind that while not “unfinished” technically, had he lived longer Hemingway likely would have revised it further. So while not a “draft” it is also probably not as polished as perhaps it could have been.

With over 2,000 Amazon reviews, it gets 4 1/2 stars – pretty good for so many ratings. Of course, though, not everyone likes it. Indeed some are willing to be blunt about… HATING it.

If you think that any authors are “immune” from “1 star” Amazon reviews, uh, think again. Here are some I screen captured the other day. Enjoy the negativity! LOL!:

I don’t even read German, and I am guessing that is pretty blistering. LOL!

All you other authors (or would-be authors) out there, feel better now? LOL!

[Ernest Hemingway’s study, Key West, Florida. Photo by me, 2014.]

Have a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂

3 thoughts on “A Feast Of Immovable “1 Stars”

  1. Dear God, those reviews! 😱 My favorite: “Ernest Hemingway is terribly overrated.” Let’s call him up and let him know. 😂🤣 I haven’t made much headway with this book yet as I seem to fall asleep as I turn the first page these days, but semester break is coming, so I am still hopeful. Thank you for the mention, my friend! Hope you and yours are well!

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    1. Doing well. Hope you stay awake eventually. I love how dismissive they are of the book: it was too much fun. Hemingway definitely has a style; and this memoir is full of it. That is partly what makes it so good. He starts every chapter with a local description, and some obscure fact(s), and some insider anecdote, and then talks about some people he knew, and maybe a waiter, and adds something about Hadley, then maybe bashes some writer, then praises another, and he has a drink or ten at a great place and damn he was writing but it was not very good and he says it will never be good damn that war and there’s that woman over there and she caught his eye and he was poor and he was earlier in the Tuileries and thought of Minnesota and decided he’d have another drink and now it was snowing and, God, that reminded him that Scott was a drunk and a pain…😂

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  2. Now who wouldn’t love all that? 😂 And yes, not that I’m a football fan, but what’s the term? Armchair quarterbacks? Dismissing any written work without having the slightest notion of the depth of emotional effort involved is just cruel. 😑

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