Rendez-Vous In Montmartre
Last month, one of Friday’s Parler Paris Property Picks reminded us how Amélie Poulain, the remarkable movie character that captured hearts around the world, put the butte (hill) Montmartre “back on the map.” This week, I invite you to find out how another fictional character, in the recently released novel Rendezvous Eighteenth by writer Jake Lamar, deals with the trials and tribulations of life and love in Montmartre and the neighboring quartiers of the 18th arrondissement:
RENDEZVOUS 18TH: A NOVEL BY JAKE LAMAR
By Monique Wells
The main character, Ricky Jenks, is a thoroughly average African-American man from a family of bourgeois over-achievers. He moves to Paris to flee the humiliation of having been stood up at his wedding coupled with the discovery that his bride-to-be ran off with his brilliantly successful cousin, Cassius Washington. He finds his niche as a piano player in a run-of-the-mill crêperie and piano bar on the place du Tertre, and falls in love with a beautiful Muslim woman in whom he encounters a curious mix of traditional faith and feminist ideals. Jenks lives on rue des Martyrs across the street from a transvestite whore house and a nursing home, buys his bread at place des Abbesses, and visits his girlfriend Fatima in her middle-class apartment and surroundings on rue de Trétaigne.
The plot begins to thicken when cousin “Cash” telephones Jenks from out of the blue, saying that he is in town and that he desperately needs Jenks’ help. The suspense mounts when Jenks returns home after a work and discovers a murdered transvestite in the lobby of his apartment building.
Author Lamar skillfully weaves the tale of Jenks’ life in the 18th arrondissement with flashbacks from his past, both in Paris and the U.S. His readers accompany Jenks all around the 18th – to the Mairie where he is questioned by the police, to the market at rue du Poteau and rue Duhesme where Fatima does her shopping, to the parvis of Sacré Coeur where his friend Valitsa the Serb works as a street mime, and to the tony avenue Junot where Cash’s wife Serena takes up temporary residence. The action of the story also unfolds at the corner of rue Poulet and rue des Poissonniers, where Jenks encounters his cousin Cash many years after the horrible experience of being jilted; at the square Roland Dorgelès (on the corner of rue des Saules and rue Saint-Vincent), which Jenks and Fatima consider to be “their carrefour”, and in the Goutte d’Or, where the answer to the mystery of the murdered transvestite finally unfolds.
Lamar’s love of the 18th shines through in his careful descriptions of the various areas in which he sets his narrative. A 10-year resident of Paris, he has spent nine of these years on the hill overlooking the city. His first apartment in the area was located on the rue des Martyrs, and his second was a studio on the rue du Mont Cenis. He uses the studio as his workplace now, and he and his wife share a home near the Mairie, where they were married.
Rendezvous Eighteenth is Lamar’s fourth work of fiction, and the first in which he has used Paris as a backdrop. He is currently at work on his fifth novel, which promises to bring us more action and adventure in Paris as he develops a story line for some of the secondary characters that he introduced in Rendezvous Eighteenth.
Rendezvous Eighteenth can be enjoyed as much for its vivid portrayals of the neighborhoods in the 18th as for its wonderfully crafted plot. In addition, Lamar depicts the African-American community in Paris today with clarity and insightfulness.
Monique Wells for Parler Paris
Special note: Jake Lamar is the guest of honor at Sunday night’s Paris Soirées hosted by Patricial Laplante-Collins, 7:30 p.m. at 35 quai d’Anjou on the Ile Saint-Louis in the 4th arrondissement. Buffet dinner is served (Patricia’s good cooking!) and your donation is 20 euros. To reserve your place, email [email protected] or phone 01.43.26.12.88 well in advance.
And for more information about Rendezvous Eighteenth visit /parlerparis/books/byamericanauthors.html
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]
P.S. Monique Y. Wells is co-owner of Discover Paris! – Personalized Itineraries for Independent Travelers and the author of “Food for the Soul.” If you are interested in a self-guided walking tour of Rendezvous Eighteenth (Jake Lamar’s Paris), contact Monique Wells at [email protected]
* Further resources:
* Now the cultural hub for English-speaking Blacks — Africans, African-Americans, West Indians, Blacks from the UK and Canada — Paris is home.
* Parler Parlor is not the same as Parler Paris! Practice speaking French…three times a week.
Confidential — our newest book for those who want to know the real Paris.
* Learn how to live and invest in France! We’re meeting in San Francisco this March. Parler Paris readers enjoy the Early Bird Discount any time they register.
* Survival French! Get your French up to snuff with the best teacher in town. As part of the Travel Writers Workshop…open to everyone.