Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

When I read Hemingway’s first paragraph in his story, A False Spring, I was captivated: “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” These words epitomized young Hemingway’s harsh life in Paris.

In his story, The End of an Avocation, there is a paragraph where Hemingway described his feelings when he stopped working on horse races: “When I stopped working on the races I was glad but it left an emptiness. By then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it by finding something better. I put the racing capital back into the general funds and I felt relaxed and good.” These words expressed a complicated time in young Hemingway’s life in Paris.

In the story, Hunger was a Good Discipline; Hemingway is a starving artist, literally. He shared his feelings: “I had not been worrying, I thought. I knew the stories were good and someone would publish them finally at home. When I stopped doing newspaper work I was sure the stories were going to be published. It is necessary to handle yourself better when you have to cut down on food so you will not get too much hunger-thinking. Hunger is a good discipline and you learn from it.” These words represented the reality in young Hemingway’s life in Paris.

During the tumultuous 1920’s, Hemingway struggled as a writer. In A Moveable Feast, he vividly tells his stories and describes his grueling daily routine walking the streets of Paris to settle into a cafĂ© in his effort to become a successful writer. He wanted to be recognized and praised in the literary world.

Hemingway writes with his direct style about his eccentric friendships with Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Scott Fitzgerald, to name a few. These relationships and conversations are priceless. His wife and son are mentioned, but Hemingway’s purpose is to recollect his memories as a struggling writer.

The stories in A Moveable Feast are worth reflecting upon as they are thought provoking and real. I will end with the story Scott Fitzgerald where Hemingway says, “I was getting tired of the literary life, if this was the literary life that I was leading, and already I missed not working and I felt the death loneliness that comes at the end of every day that is wasted in your life.”

Hemingway began writing A Moveable Feast when he was fifty-eight years old. It was published posthumously in 1964. He committed suicide at the age of sixty-two.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Is Turn of Mind a murder mystery or a 1st person narrative of an orthopedic surgeon living with Alzheimer’s/Dementia? Alice LaPlante has combined the two for an extraordinary read inside the deteriorating mind of Dr. Jennifer White.

Dr. White is a 64 year old hand surgeon who becomes the prime suspect in her best friend, Amanda’s, murder. Reason being, four of her fingers are surgically removed from her hand.

Realizing this book is indeed a novel, I thought it was a fascinating way to enter the confused mind of a person suffering from this horrid disease. LaPlante’s use of a murder mystery for readers to experience this journey is genius.

Dr. White has two children, a son and a daughter, whose characters highlight the family dynamics brilliantly. It is another malfunctioning family, true, but LaPlante’s characterization of the family, friends, even the caretaker, make the difficult subject matter an outstanding read.

One who has a medical background may have some issues with facts, no doubt, but to the naked eye, Turn of Mind is a book of interest which leaves the reader feeling compassion for anyone suffering from Alzheimer’s/Dementia disease.

I recommend this book for mystery lovers as well as readers curious about Alzheimer’s or Dementia. My favorite books are written in first person, and I was not disappointed. For a first novel, you knocked it out of the park Alice LaPlante!