One of the things books gave me, back when I had started to read, was the ability to surrender myself to the openness of experience. The kind of experiences that did not include me in them… experiences that were never supposed to.
Reading Ernest Hemingway became synonymous with rediscovering myself, as if for the first time, out of the hibernation and dullness that was reality. From it, I took a flight out of the false identity that stranded me and found, renewed and roused, a kind of nostalgia and melancholy for the selves that I would be.
This marks the beginning of my love for literature. Everybody has a story that precedes their love for books.
My story is like any other.
A Moveable Feast is the epitome of my life as it was when I had first read it. It’s the lens through which I viewed fiction and reality side-by-side. It exists as a memory that one always evokes, not to relive it but to feel.
I can tell you why you should read Ernest Hemingway. I can also tell you why you shouldn’t.
Some people I know revere his writing, his unfiltered creativity, his world through themes that you would now perceive as outrageously cliched. Some people I know think of Hemingway as the hackneyed American with his highbrow, brawny, and grandiose literary style.
My advice to you would be to not make a fuss about it. Reading Hemingway is no different than learning a new word. You can live and experience the language without it, undeterred by its luxury and appeal.
But if you do read Hemingway, read it not to be “well-read” but to experience and feel.
There’s joy in remembering where you started from. It’s oftentimes necessary to do so. Perhaps, for me, reading about the ordinariness of life in Hemingway’s books kindled the ordinariness of my life. His short and incisive sentences intensified the fleeting sensations of my existence. And that is why all the books I will read will always retain all the books I’ve read.