Book Review #3 – A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway

I read Hemingway for the first time when I was quite young, starting with The Old Man and The Sea. I do not have a lot of memories of that novel, except that I loved it at the time. Since then, the name of the author stayed somewhere in the back of my head until a few months ago when a friend of mine offered me a copy of A Moveable Feast.

If you have read the other reviews I made, you are already aware that I am not very good at them, and that I just like to talk about why I liked something and how it inspired me. (If you have any ideas to make them better, feel free to comment) So, here we go !

I cannot talk about Hemingway without refering first to the Lost Generation. So, for those who wouldn’t know, after WWI, a group of writers, poets, painters and art collectors would gather at Gertrude Stein’s apartement to talk about life, art and literature. Among them, Ernest Hemingway. Of course, the Lost Generation is more than that, but I could write an entire article on the people who were part.

The memoir tells different stories about the author’s life in Paris in the 1920s. His description of Parisian life in the early 20th century is excellent : it is as if Hemingway was describing photographs. But the best thing about the narration is that the book was written in the 1950s, and old Hemingway comments on his younger self actions. This gives us a pretty good insight of the evolution of the writer’s nature.

There is one place in Paris which I am obsessed with : the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop. Like Stein’s place, the bookshop was a meeting point for many writers (James Joyce, Ezra Pound, among others) and, even though it has become very touristic, I still glorify it. In A Moveable Feast, I loved reading about Sylvia Beach’s shop and how she was very welcoming (the people who work there now are brilliant too). For someone like me who dreams of becoming a writer, it is the perfect place to get inspiration.

I don’t know if it is important to know someone to appreciate their art, but I feel like it can help. Two authors I love are present in Hemingway’s memoir : Fitzgerald and Joyce. I found it interesting to meet a younger Fitzgerald, as he was writing The Great Gatsby : confident, yet uncertain about his talent at creating a whole novel. A Moveable Feast reminded me that before becoming the greatest American authors of the 21st century, Fitzgerald and Hemingway were sometimes struggling.

Talking about struggling is a good transition to the next theme I liked in the memoir : drinking. If you are, like me, a big fan of wine and beer, this is the perfect book. I could just imagine Hemingway in a Parisian troquet, writing and drinking, and it definitely made me want to do the same. Fortunately, I prefer coffee when I write, which prevents me from being an alcoholic. Anyways, when the title was chosen, moveable was about having Paris in your pocket wherever you were, and feast, I believe, represents everything that happens in Paris : its people, its streets and restaurants. But for me, feast is more about drinking : because that’s the image I have of Hemingway in the capital. Also, I am not sure about this fact as it is just a memory, but I think that in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Hemingway only appears in a bar. Did Allen give me a wrong image of the writer ?

I’m sure I could talk more about the book and the author’s style, but I think I will end this review now with a quote from the memoir :

We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.

For this is the dream : books, a lover, the comfort of your bed, and stars to make you dream of the world that surrounds you.

I am currently reading The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt, and I could write a review about her next time (I LOVED The Goldfinch and The Secret History). She’s an amazing writer, full of suprises!


Snowy photograph and poem

Sans titre 1

As I look through the window
And lay my eyes on the snow,
I embrace my dreams of the unknown,
In which I travel alone.

La Boutique du Sommeil

J’en rêvais depuis longtemps. Depuis mes 17 ans, je dirais. Et enfin, après des années passées à procrastiner, j’ai enfin écrit un roman.

Enfin… le premier jet d’un roman. Il me reste encore à relire le tout, et retravailler certains points de l’histoire.

Longtemps, j’ai tenté de retranscrire les histoires qui me venaient en tête, mais je n’avais jamais réussi à écrire plus de trois pages jusqu’à maintenant. Et puis, j’ai découvert Scribay. Ce site est merveilleux : il permet d’écrire, en organisant les chapitres, et surtout, de communiquer avec d’autres écrivains amateurs. Il est possible d’annoter les textes, de les commenter, et c’est un très bon moyen de se motiver.

Chaque jour, je me suis efforcé d’écrire au moins 500 mots, et grâce à ce site, j’ai vite réalisé que les retours me faisaient beaucoup de bien. C’est ainsi que j’ai pu créer mon histoire.

La Boutique du Sommeil, c’est une sorte de thriller. Un roman policier, sans police. L’histoire débute avec un inconnu qui se dirige vers une boutique mystérieuse. Y travaille un jeune anglais, Ezra, qui va aider l’homme dans sa quête d’un “soulagement de la conscience”.

Quelques semaines plus tard, la propriétaire d’une boutique dans le Passage du Grand Cerf rencontre Ezra, et c’est une histoire d’amour qui commence. Mais le jeune homme est hanté par certaines erreurs qu’il a commises dans le passé.

Je pourrais vous en dire plus, mais je ne veux pas spoiler. En attendant, l’histoire (pas encore corrigée) est disponible sur le site Scribay, en cliquant sur le lien sur la bannière principale de mon blog, ou en cliquant ICI.

N’hésitez-pas à me contacter, ou à commenter si vous souhaitez discuter de l’histoire. Elle n’est pas parfaite, loin de là, et je reste ouvert aux différentes suggestions.


The MoMa in Paris

Until the beginning of March, the Louis Vitton Foundation (Bois de Boulogne) has opened its doors to two hundred masterpieces from American Museum of Modern Art (MoMa). I was very lucky to visit the exhibition and (re)discover so many brilliant artists. This article is just a random guy talking about art he liked.

Constructing / Deconstructing art

What I love about modern artists is that they tend to interact with the audience. Two artists in particular have made me question the notion of changing art in this exhibition. Felix Gonzales-Torres created sculptures made of sweets, asking the public to help themselves with one. With only 85 unique structures offered to the MoMa (the artist died in 1996), there will be a point when its oeuvre, Untitled (USA Today) will cease to exist. If I remember well, it was metaphorical for his illness which would kill him eventually. With that piece, visitors were part of the deconstruction of art.

Another artist who interacted with the public was Slovakian Roman Ondák who, contrarily to Gonzales-Torres, used the people to construct his piece. Measuring the Universe consists of measuring the visitors and writing their first names and the dates they came.

I participated in the second one, as I was happy to be part of a Modern work, but I didn’t take a sweet, as I felt guilty (ridiculously).



As you might have seen on my blog, I love the art of photography, and it is the only visual art I have tried. The exhibition offered a look at different artists, and proposed as well anonymous works. The aim was to show the evolution of the art, from daguerreotypes to digital photos, and explore its different uses. I cannot unfortunately talk about all of the artists, but I can present three I liked : Walker Evans, Man Ray and Jeff Wall.

Walker Evans is famous for his photojournalism during the Great Depression. His work was first presented in the MoMa in 1938, before the Department of Photography was created.

I knew the name “Man Ray” but could not associate it with any work. And then, I recognized one : Anatomies, because it was used for the cover of a Cigarette after Sex album. I do love black and white photos, especially when they tend to be abstract. I can only advise to search for Stieglitz’s art if you like them too.

Finally, Jeff Wall. After “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue was definitely the work I prefered in the entire museum. Created in 1999-2000, it depicts a scene from Ellison’s novel, in which the narrator steals electricity to light his thousand bulbs. It is a huge photo on a light box, which catches the eye from far away. The picture is a representation of loneliness (we can all rely), but most importantly of the condition of black people in the America of the 1950s.


I could carry on for hours on the dozens of artists I have liked in the museum (Picasso, Frida Khalo, Hopper, Signac, and so many more).

A part of the exhibition was dedicated to the history of the MoMa, with a collection of books, pamphlets, photos and videos about the evolution of the museum. I very much liked to learn more about the people who created it and those who contributed to its expansion. Thanks to them, we have the chance to admire the best works ever made since the 1880s, and although I talked a lot about famous people, I was lucky to get to know contemporary artists I didn’t know.


Retrouvez-moi sur Scribay !

Je publie rarement (pas assez) en français sur ce blog. Il me sert surtout à partager des pensées et des photos, et à m’entraîner à développer mon lexique et ma syntaxe en anglais.

J’ai récemment commencé à écrire une histoire en français sur la plateforme Scribay. Vous pouvez m’y suivre sous le nom Mathieu Malher (facile, c’est comme le blog). J’y relève aussi des défis et j’aime lire les oeuvres des autres personnes inscrites. Donc si vous êtes sur le site, je me ferai une joie de vous lire !

Voici un résumé de ma première histoire (en cours), en espérant que cela vous donne envie d’y jeter un oeil :

Un homme erre dans les rues de Paris, à la recherche de ‘La Boutique du Sommeil’. Ezra Bird travaille sans relâche pour relancer l’affaire familiale. La rencontre entre les deux hommes mènera Ezra dans une quête de vérités.”

Pour l’instant, la première partie est en ligne (6 chapitres) et ne prend pas beaucoup de temps à lire. Il me semble qu’en cliquant ICI, vous aurez accès au texte (même sans inscription).

N’hésitez pas à commenter ! Toute remarque est bonne à prendre.





Black and White


Book review #1 – The Vernon Subutex Trilogy

I first discovered the crude language of Virginie Despentes on some TV Talk Show. I knew nothing about her, except that she was a writer and filmmaker, and that I had been advised before to check her work out. So I kept watching the interview, slowly but deeply falling in love with her words. By the end of the show, I knew that I would love her prose and I decided to give it a try. That was about two years ago!

The second experience I had with Despentes was in a bookshop. I usually spend a lot of time wandering among the different sections, looking at book covers, reading back covers, and trying to decide what books to buy. This process can take hours. So I was in that bookshop, looking for a gift for a friend and after what seemed like decades, I was attracted to a yellow cover (a gut feeling of some sort). This was when I discovered Apocalypse Bébé. I knew that it would be the perfect gift for my friend or, at least, I trusted the idea I had of Despentes from the interview. I also knew that it was time I read something from Despentes.

Among the many books she wrote, I chose Vernon Subutex (VS) for two reasons : I liked the name and the book cover (Grasset Editions). I had had a similar experience with Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower so I decided to buy the first VS.


I have felt an incredible amount of different emotions during my readings. Some books I have finished with the mouth wide open, overwhelmed with shock and excitement. Yet, I had never had goosebumps before reaching the end of Subutex.

So, what’s the story about anyways? The book follows the adventures of its eponymous hero Vernon, a middle-aged Parisian man, ex-record shop owner, who finds himself homeless and travels through the streets of Paris, crashing at friends and basically just surviving. No need to tell you more…

In the story, Despentes explores many themes which show some of 20th and 21st centuries’ lifestyles in the worlds of prostitution, trading and most importantly, music (among others). Subutex constantly moves from places to places and by doing so, discovers a lot about human nature. Spirituality and religion play an important part in the series, especially from the second work.

Despentes’ prose really helps the reader relate to the different characters. Our ideas and believes are continuously challenged as we encounter new characters. Every chapter is written with a first-person narrator and every character (many outcasts) has a right to tell the story of the life of Vernon Subutex. I was referring earlier to the crudeness of Despentes’ language. Well, what I love about this series is that it seems that the author really worked on each character’s way of speaking.

I absolutely love stories which are told with a stream of consciousness voice, and Vernon Subutex is a great example of this style of prose. Thanks to this process, we learn so much about the characters’ visions of the world, they speak with no hypocrisy and we have an exceptionally realistic portrait of 21st-century Paris.

This is my first book review and I am afraid to say too much about the story or the book. I do believe that everyone should read these books, in French if possible, as it is a great social and spiritual journey. I will end this with a quote from the first book which I really liked.

“La vie se joue souvent en deux manches : dans un premier temps, elle t’endort en te faisant croire que tu gères, et sur la deuxième partie, quand elle te voit détendu et désarmé, elle repasse les plats et te défonce.”


NB : next review will be on the work of Kundera


Art & Literature in Paris (or, Three good reasons to read this article)

No need for me to tell you that Paris is an amazing city if, like me, you love art, architecture and literature.

I only spent a weekend there recently and I thought I should talk about some discoveries that I made, as well as publish some pictures (I lost my memory card so I used my phone, low quality..).

If you love English books, Shakespeare and Co is the perfect place to find them. The bookshop has a great collection of classics, including stories and poems from the Beat Generation (which I love), contemporary literature and non-fiction books. The staff is welcoming and very helpful.

You might even find yourself there at a time when someone is playing the piano. Surrounded by all those books, and knowing a little bit about the history of the bookshop, I felt like I had gone back in time to the beginning of the 20th century.

There are so many museums in Paris that if you are there for a weekend only, you will have troubles choosing the right one to visit. I hesitated between the Louvre (I’m French and have never visited it) and the Musée Pompidou. Because it was its 40th anniversary, I decided to visit Pompidou.

If you have never seen the architecture of the building, it is worth having a look! It is very modern (considering its age), and whether you like the style or not, the museum is very impressive among the Parisian buildings.

I loved the exhibition on Russian artists, especially the work of Vladimir Yankilevsky (click here for his website). Among other works, we were able to discover his “Anatomy of feelings” collection. It is definitely an exhibition that I would advise anyone to see.

There were so many artists that I liked, some I have written down the name but haven’t had time to look closely at their work, that it would be hard for me to tell you about them all. I can only advise to go and check them for yourselves.

Like I have said before, I did not use my camera but my phone. The pictures aren’t perfect but they can give you an idea of what I saw (especially the view from the top of the Pompidou museum).


Would you believe me if I said…

I was French and I had never visited Paris.

Well, this was true before June. I saw the Eiffel Tower once, a year ago, when I had some free time between two trains but I had never spent a week end in Paris. I had seen other capitals and other major cities, but never Paris.

Well, I have now, and although I have to say I could not live there, I loved it! I took a lot of pictures, but I will share only two.

ImagePont des Arts – Paris – June 14


Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre – Paris – June 14