The Best of the Paris Bookshelf
I don’t believe there is another city written more about than Paris. Of course, as the world’s most visited city, there are more guidebooks on the bookstores’ shelves about Paris than any other. But there are more reasons than just that. I don’t have proof, mind you, but it seems that more memoirs are written, more poetry books, more articles, more of everything than about any other city on the planet.
One explanation could be the “onion” theory. A friend from New York who visits Paris often just last night compared Paris with an onion — the layers of which are ceaselessly unfolding to discover new layers of varying thicknesses and textures. I relished in that analogy, as we took a slightly different route to the Métro we might normally have taken, only to discover yet another magnificent “petit coin” worthy of a photo we hadn’t seen before, exemplifying the complex detail of the city that unfolds before us at every turn.
After a “séjour” of 11 years in the city, I’ve learned that the more I know about Paris, the more I realize how little I know. The possibilities are endless; the lore so profound that one could never achieve it fully — certainly not in one lifetime. But one can try.
This is the reason I continue to read everything I can about Paris. Seems silly for someone living a full and enriched life here, but it’s an addiction — I just can’t get enough. (There are worse addictions to have!) To satisfy my most recent cravings, there are a number of brilliant wordsmiths with poignant prose I’ve added to my bookshelf and you should, too, should you have the same addiction as me.
Just hot off the press — so hot that Amazon doesn’t have it yet — is Maxine Rose Shur’s “Places in Time”…a San Franciscan who set out to see the world with high spirits and little money, who traveled not only far geographically, but emotionally, toward the hearts of others. Maxine brought me the sizzling copy while I was in San Francisco. In her essay, “My Idea of Paris,” she writes, “I’ve been to Paris many times, but the very idea of Paris still seduces.” In December, her “idea” will become a reality when she arrives for a fourth-month sojourn in the city she says she hungers for. Click here to learn more: /parlerparis/books/miscellaneous.html
Fellow Marais resident, David Downie and his wife, Alison Harris, whose photos embellish his well-written tales of the city in “Paris, Paris: A Journey into the City of Light” have recently released this compilation of 30 essays. It’s tough to decide which is my favorite…but “Vie de Chien: A Dog’s Life” certainly tickled my funny bones when he coins Paris as “not only the City of Light, but also the European Capital of Dog Dirt and the world Mecca of the Canine Obsessed.” To meet the author and get your signed copy, Downie will be reading from the book and Harris’ photos will be on display at the Atelier de la Main d’Or, 9, passage de la Main d’Or, 75011 Paris (Métro Ledru-Rollin) December 1st from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Click here to learn more: /parlerparis/books/booksaboutfrance.html
When I was in San Francisco last week, newly acquaintanced author Steven Barclay handed me his latest anthology “A Place in the World Called Paris” with illustrations by Miles Hyman and forward by Susan Sontag. Publicity for the book states that “Paris–with its subtle moods, elegant charm, and sensual allure–inspires writers and visitors like no other city. A Place in the World Called Paris, collects the twentieth-century’s most distinguished authors writing on the unique facets of the City of Light. More than 170 short excerpts from fiction, poetry, essays, and memoirs presents fresh and unexpected views of Paris. “Proof of the pudding” that Paris is a writer’s drug. Click here to learn more: /parlerparis/books/booksaboutfrance.html
If you’re in the Bay Area, then you’re in luck to catch authors Cara Black (“Murder in the Marais” and four other murder mysteries set in Paris) and Leonard Pitt (“Paris Disparu”) doing “The Cottage Lectures — A Night in the Marais.” Pitt will take you on a guided tour of the splendors and miseries of one of Paris’ most renowned districts, the Marais, while Black will talk about how she uncovered her alter-ego, crime investigator Aimée Leduc, and how she solves murders that never happened. It all happens Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays November 11, 12, 13 and 18, 19, 20 at 8 p.m. at Pitt’s 17th century French cottage. Wine is served, reservations and donation of $20 is a must. Click here to learn more: http://leonardpitt.com/events.html or email [email protected]
Not so hot off the press is Edmund White’s “The Flâneur,” but it is a must-read. White was here not long ago signing copies of his latest book “My Lives: An Autobiography” but I went for what I think of as his classic tale of Paris secrets. Leslie Reed writes, “White’s Paris is seen on foot, as a flâneur, a stroller who aimlessly loses himself in a crowd, going wherever curiosity leads him and collecting impressions along the way. Paris is the perfect city for the flâneur, as every quartier is beautiful and full of rich and surprising delights. But this is no typical tour of monuments and museums; it is much more intimate and surprising.” This “Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris” speaks way louder than words. Click here to learn more: /parlerparis/books/booksaboutfrance.html
These are just a small taste of what American writers in Paris have to offer. For more, just visit our site at /parlerparis/books/index.html
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]
P.S. I urge all of you to attend the Katrina Relief Fund Benefit Concert Sunday night November 6th at the American Cathedral! Visit the Community Calendar for more information or click on http://www.katrinafundfrance.com See you there!
P.P.S. Mark Tuesday, November 8th for Parler Paris Après Midi from 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. See /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more details.
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