The Ken Burns series on Hemingway will begin airing on PBS on April 5, 2021. The promos to his series got me to thinking about what was going on in my mind as I was writing A Moveable Marfa. The series looks like it is going to be incredible and honest.
I worked on A Moveable Marfa during the years I lived Paris, 2010-2013. I knew additional books might also emerge from this experience. Which is now happening. The Sommières Sun, my next novel and a sequel to A Moveable Marfa is in the final stages of pre-publication editing. In telling of my story of protagonist, Steve Miles, both novels feature content on Hemingway’s life in Paris and his philosophy on writing.
In 2011, I challenged myself to visit and document many of the sites in Paris Hemingway identified in Paris. I visited where he and Hadley first lived and the nearby writing studio he rented. A portion of the episode I describe in Chapter 21 of A Moveable Marfa really happened. I still vividly recall the downpour that began as I was admiring the location of Hemingway’s old writing studio at 39 rue Descartes. Slightly drenched and standing under an awning, I really did chat with a man of African descent there. I think in reality we conversed in French, even if my character, Steve, chatted with him mostly in English.
Anyway, I visited and wrote about many sites Hemingway described in A Moveable Feast, including the places he lived, Gertrude Stein’s flat at 27 Fluerus, Michaud’s (now Le Pre Aux Clercs), the original location of Shakespeare and Company at rue de l’Odeon, Hotel Venitia, and the Dingo Bar (now Auberge de Venise), among others. In a A Moveable Marfa, I described Steve’s feelings as he visited these places seeking inspiration to write his novel.
Throughout A Moveable Feast, Hemingway described so many places we can visit today. Here’s his description of the fountains at Place Saint-Sulpice.
I visited this fountain numerous times.
Of course I hung out at the Jardin de Luxembourg numerous times and wrote parts of the book there. Hemingway referenced this park many times and wrote of going to the Musée du Luxembourg to see the Cézannes, Manets, Monets.
In Chapter 22, I describe a scene in the below bar, Le 10 Bar. Right next door, was the original location of Shakespeare and Company. I describe a scene that Hemingway reportedly made on this very street after receiving a bad review.
The Sommières Sun will be out soon. If you haven’t read a A Moveable Marfa now is a great time. The Sommières Sun is a sequel to a A Moveable Marfa. Reading A Moveable Marfa is not essential, but reading it first will make reading The Sommières Sun all the more enjoyable.