A LITERARY FEAST — A REVIEW

Even though this book is listed as “fiction,” it feels as much like a memoir as anything I have read. Published posthumously, Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast chronicles a time when the writer was young, often strapped for cash, but seemingly at his best in terms of his craft, his zeal, and the “literary feasts” that he enjoyed in the company of other writers–many of whom were expatriates like Hemingway.

Surrounded by such greats as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway shone as a young writer moving up. Despite the constant party swirling around all of them, nothing seemed to stifle the “unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm.”

Unlike other stories I have read from this time, the relationship with his first wife Hadley felt almost like a footnote. She is mentioned frequently, but mostly in her secondary role as wife and companion. His first love was the all-consuming writing craft and the cafes he inhabited in order to soak up the ambience that enriched his prose.

Despite the rather spare style, which is typical Hemingway, I could almost see, hear, and smell the Paris of the 1920s. Hemingway wrote in a conversational voice, as if sharing his thoughts and feelings. In this way, I, as the reader, could almost glimpse the world firsthand.

A very engaging portrait of a time in a writer’s life, and the world populated by other greats: five stars!

IN PURSUIT OF A MADMAN — A REVIEW

In 1920s Munich, Faye Kellerman’s backdrop for this murder mystery is a war-torn city steeped in political unrest. As a barbaric butcher stalks the city, hate-mongers abound, ready to point fingers at any suspect in order to solve the crime and settle the unrest.

But Axel Berg is persistent in attempting to solve the crimes, and not just to close his case; he relentlessly pursues this goal, despite the obstacles he encounters along the way. Beautiful women are murdered and dumped in close proximity to one another, artfully arranged, suggesting psychological issues of childhood trauma. The closer Berg comes to identifying a possible suspect, another one crops up. As he draws closer to finding the ties that link the suspects to one another, he sets himself up as a target for the madman.

Kellerman’s clues kept me guessing all the way through, and I enjoyed the way she sprinkled them on the pathway to finding out the madman’s identity at the very end.

The beginning was a bit slow and I didn’t completely connect to the story for awhile, but once I did, I couldn’t put Straight into Darkness down. Kellerman’s skill swept me along to a startling finish. Four stars.