Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here. Next event:

Nov 1, 2017 2:00 PM in the Georgetown Public Library.

Highlight and right click on this "link" to see everything you need to know to attend. https://folgeorgetown.org/event/hcas-meg-gardiner/
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The Nobel Prize in Literature was given to author Kazuo Ishiguro.
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Amazon is planning a video series based on stories by Philip K. Dick. Date of release is not yet announced.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hemingway's First Marriage is a Casualty of  'The Lost Generation'

 Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife, grew up in foster homes. Her mother disappeared, and her father was in trouble often. She wrote a memoir called "Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses." How sad is that? Sadder than the subject she decided to write about in The Paris Wife, Ernest Hemingway's first marriage of four, or happier than the oddly matched couple's rise and demise? McLain did a good job of writing The Paris Wife! It read like a romance, but a literary one with quality writing. I am thankful that our book group chooses books such as this that are well-written, impressive fascinating page-turners rather than the thousands of "romances" that are out there, that boil down one small group of ideas, bloated phrasing, and thoughts of Fabio air-brushed on the covers to look younger than he is.

Remembering that The Paris Wife was based on a true story, our discussion centered around the whys and wherefores of the characters' personalities, choices, and underlying psychology. Janice opened the discussion by asking us why the 21-year-old Hemingway and the 29-year-old Hadley (Hem&Had) were attracted to each other. Answers:
               Cindy - Hem might have married her for her family's money
               Janice - They filled each other's needs
               Patty - Hem was handsome, and Hadley had been closed in for much of her adult life, so naturally she couldn't resist!

I never quite got why Hem&Had called each other "Tatie." Did I miss something? Was it just what evolved, or perhaps, as Peggy suggested, easier to use a simple nickname than to remember anything else when you're drunk? And what could be easier to remember than just one nickname for two people!
              
Our conversation moved quickly, with Janice asking us questions she had prepared. We had a mixture of comments about a variety of topics. For example, as to why Hem&Had went to Paris instead of to Rome, where Hem originally wanted to go. Seems it was because of the influence of Sherwood Anderson, who seemed to lead a number of writers to Paris. Much of our discussion was based on the factual information in the book and the analysis provided by McLain's Hadley as the first-person narrator of the book. Even though the book was a novel, it was clearly a historical novel; we could tell that the author had done considerable research and had mostly followed factual information about the writers and artists she chronicled. We all seemed to enjoy the book, but we didn't need to guess too much about the characters, because it was all there.

I felt that our discussion's original contributions to our understanding of the book, its time, and the people it involves, were our observations based on the history of Europe after the time of the book. Thus, we have some perspective advantages that Hadley did not have in analyzing her and her cohort's situations. Mentions during our discussion that seem to illuminate the dynamics of the story include that had the modern understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression been available in the 1920s, it might have helped people in the book and might have reduced some of the drinking. Although alcoholism is not something that is easily conquered, it does seem that some of the drinking might have been reduced  by therapy and even antidepressant medication.

Also, there was some discussion about the influences of World War I, called "the Great War" at the time in the book. Frank started this part of the discussion by suggesting that the art of the time was based on reactions to the war and that behavior, especially the "party while you can" attitude exemplified in the book, was also a reaction to the horrors of war. Patty said that at that time, successful artists were influential leaders, e.g., Sherwood Anderson leading artists to Paris, Gertrude Stein gathering them at her successful "Salons," and even "La Dolce Vita"  in Italy, which offers another historical world that we could enjoy reading about. Ken suggested that after the war, all of society was in upheaval. He said that "the rules were changed"  by this war that used gas and other new devastation tactics from afar rather than the more conventional hand-to-hand combat. After the trauma of the war, people were finding new ways to live and making new rules. Ken gave the example of Gauguin, who indeed found a way to avoid the upheaval of Europe by settling in Tahiti and creating his body (pun intended) of work there.

Some of our members had read or encountered Ernest Hemingway's autobiographical A Moveable Feast, which seems to tell about his wives but has been edited by one of the wives or several family members over the years or something like that. Any of you who know the details are welcome to post them here - as a post or comment, or on Facebook. A Moveable Feast seems to be a tedious read. Patty finished it but didn't like it and went so far as to say it was poorly written and that Hemingway wouldn't have published it in its current state.

 Here's an interesting website that tangentially touches on The Paris Wife:

 Librarian Linda gave us the following listing of some books available at the Round Rock Public Library that we might enjoy now that we have read The Paris Wife:

Little Demon in the City of Light, by Steven Levingston
How Paris Became Paris, by Joan DeJean
Paris, by Edward Rutherford
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan
A Master's Muse, by Varley O'Connor
Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnick
And 2 more that Jay recommended on our Facebook page:
Running With the Bulls: My Years With the Hemingways, by Valerie Hemingway 

Dennis brought a book of photographs called Kiki's Paris. Kiki was a model, and many famous people of the 1920s are in the photos. I believe I saw Hemingway, Picasso, and Gertrude Stein among the many photos.




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