“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”
I didn’t enjoy Paris. I found it cold and wet, the waiters were rude, and the stately architecture was counteracted by the smell.
Hemingway’s Paris was a century before mine, but they were the same streets. It’s like when someone loves a movie you found dull: it doesn’t matter how much they marvel at the cinematography or acting. It won’t change that you didn’t connect.
But the focus here wasn’t on the city, but on a peculiar time in Hemingway’s life when everything felt alive; he met some of the most interesting people of the 20th century, drank good wine, tasted delicious food. He made good art. He distills the years that were so important to him with trademark brevity, and makes even his cold nights in an unheated apartment seem envious.
It just works.