Regional Books Tales will connect you with Paris
SHORT STORIES She mostly remembers was watching MTV Europe. Others were seasoned writers the first time they saw Paris and came on research trips or were looking for inspiration.
Like all books of essays, the quality of the writing is varied, too. A couple of the pieces read like “what I did on my summer vacation.” There are travel tips and tales of faux pas made because of high school French. Almost all mention viewing the Eiffel Tower, watching French men smoking Gauloises and admiring French women who have a way with scarves. Dog poop was another unifying theme.
Among the best of the essays is editor Eleanor Brown’s “Failing in Paris.”
Asked” Didn’t you just love Paris?” she inevitably answers, “Yes!”
Actually, “I didn’t love Paris,” she writes. “I didn’t, most days, even like it.”
Brown set off for Paris with letters her grandmother had written from the city in the 1920s, determined to follow in her footsteps. The problem, she realized, was you can’t go back to 1924 Paris. There was rain, and cigarette butts littered the streets. The apartment was cramped, although there were those ladies with scarves. “Boy howdy, are they a people who know how to wear a scarf,” she writes.
Brown’s conclusion is that she didn’t hate Paris, but she didn’t love it, either — not until later, when she realized she loves the memories of it.
Paula McLain, author of “The Paris Wife,” who probably has inspired more tourists to visit the City of Light than any author since Ernest Hemingway, didn’t visit Paris until she completed the book about Hadley. She writes of photographing every place the Hemingways lived or ate or caroused — then she dropping the camera and exposed the film.
Other writers agree with Cathy Kelly, who writes, “This city captured my heart … . There began my love affair with Paris, and it has never stopped.”
“Paris is different for each of us,” writes Brown in the introduction to the book. “But when I read these stories, I feel connected to everyone else’s experiences.” So will readers those who have been there and those who haven’t.