Imagine my delight on learning that Cuban preservationists are digitizing artifacts in the way of writings, letters, photographs, etc. from Ernest Hemingway’s house (the Finca Vigia “Lookout Farm”) outside of Havana. Hemingway lived at the Finca during the 40’s and 50’s, and it was there that he completed For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. If American’s can ever freely visit Cuba again, I’d love to check out the house.
As I’ve said before in the blog, I’m working on a novel set in Key West during the 30s when Hemingway lived there with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. My protagonist is a young housekeeper for the family who is particularly taken with the writer. The Hemingway writing well has been a bit dry through the holidays due in large part to the festive distractions, but in larger part to the Twilight series–or “literary crack”–that consumed me. But it was during that time that I was talking to a friend about my Hemingway book, and we started to discuss A Movable Feast.
Hemingway wrote A Movable Feast about his time spent in Paris in the twenties. I hadn’t read it for awhile, so I picked it up a couple of days ago, and the well was instantly filled. It feels like I’m having a (one-way) conversation, and Hemingway is telling me all about himself–his mannerisms, how he relates to others, his conversational style, etc. Those were all things that were eluding me, and I wanted to portray him in the book as accurately as possible. The tiny YouTube Hemingway clips I’d found weren’t doing him justice. I feel like I’ve rediscovered a treasure I had forgotten about.
I was also having trouble with the format of my novel. Due to my limited time writing in frenzied little spurts between playdates and bedtimes, my manuscript was becoming very episodic. I’d title a section of text so I’d know what it was about, and then I planned on fitting all the pieces together in a stream of sequential prose. But upon rereading A Movable Feast, I see that it is set up in twenty titled sections that form a coherent picture of Hemingway’s time in Paris. It was as if I was subconsciously channeling that style, but now it’s conscious. I don’t know if that format will make it through final edits, but it’s got me excited for now.
It is one of those little spurts of naptime, now, so I need to get to work.