Re­gional Books Tales will con­nect you with Paris

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.