Reconnecting With a Friendjournal reflection
Location: Charleville-Mézière -> Reims
First, Reims is pronounced like “Raas”. Or so. Knowing that would have been helpful when telling people where I was going. “Remmes”, as I had been pronouncing it, does not exist.
I had a very slow start to the day. My bus to Reims left at 15:27, and there wasn’t much going on in CM on a saturday morning.
The bus to Reims was uneventful. I listened to, for the umpteenth time, Colour Haze’s self-titled album. It was as always a treat.
I met up with Etienne, whom I haven’t seen in probably over a year. We had a bottle of Champagne and caught up. He’s been unemployed living on the french island Réunion with his doctor girlfriend (Marine, who directed me to Revin and the voie verte). That’s actually where he was for lockdown. He’s since returned to Paris and is freelancing.
We grabbed crepes for dinner (bien sûr), drank cidre and beer, and continued to shoot the breeze. It was really great to catch up.
I slept in a bed for the first time in almost two weeks. It was nice.
I started reading “a moveable feast”. I read “a farewell to arms” (sort of) in highschool but don’t remember it, and having read “men without women” earlier in the trip, I’m not wholly unfamiliar with his style. I’ve also seen “midnight in paris” several times. His character was the scene-stealing highlight for me, and his character never got overused, and I’m appreciating him even more now.
The subject in “a moveable feast” is fairly mundane. Compared to, for example, the absolutely gripping opening story in “men without women”, it’s pretty dull. Hemingway drinks. Hemingway gambles. He scribbles a bit. The prose is what I find so engaging. It pulls me into the places he’s in and the people he’s with without demanding my attention but somehow making me want to read more.
I think there’s a desire in people to have discriminating taste, and to be able to describe why X is better than Y, or even just to characterize X at all (which probably requires implicit comparison to Y, Z, Q..). Doesn’t really matter what it is – beer, wine, food, movies, music.
Reading Hemingway recount Gertrude Stein’s reasoned dismissal and praise, I feel that desire to have the vocabulary and depth of knowledge to make those judgments.
At this point in my literary life, I can sense/feel/intuit/whatever bad writing, as I assume most people with a bit of education (formal or otherwise) can. Going back to favored books from my mid to late teens and finding the prose painful is a clear enough indication that I can feel “bad” writing. But I suppose real literary criticism, reading it and familiarizing myself with the language, is how to do it.