Print of the Hô­tel Cluny, Paris

PARIS, FRANCE

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - —Terry Fal­lis

For many writ­ers, cer­tain places in cer­tain times hold lit­er­ary magic — San Fran­cisco in the 1950s, Canada in the 1960s, New York in al­most any pe­riod. In my writerly heart, Paris of the 1920s oc­cu­pies a very spe­cial place. For a good chunk of my life as a nov­el­ist, I’ve been fas­ci­nated by the ex­pats who formed what Gertrude Stein called the “lost gen­er­a­tion” in post­war Paris. Hem­ing­way, in par­tic­u­lar, seized my in­ter­est many years ago and still has not let go. As a char­ter mem­ber of the “why use six words when 12 will do” school of prose, I’m not a big fan of Hem­ing­way’s spare writ­ing, but I’m end­lessly cu­ri­ous about his life, es­pe­cially his years as a young, poor, strug­gling writer in Paris. Toronto, where I live, looks much dif­fer­ent to­day than it did in the 1920s. But Paris still ap­pears nearly the same as a cen­tury ago when Hem­ing­way, Fitzger­ald, Mor­ley Cal­laghan, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and the rest of their crew wrote and drank in the cafés of the Left Bank. My wife and I visit Paris when­ever we can, al­ways stay­ing in the Latin Quar- ter along­side the ghosts of these lit­er­ary leg­ends. I of­ten write in their favourite cafés seek­ing in­spi­ra­tion at least, and spec­tral visi­ta­tion at best. I’ve found the for­mer but, re­gret­tably, never the lat­ter. We bought this print in a tiny shop not far from Les Deux Magots, one of Hem­ing­way’s pre­ferred haunts. The Ho­tel Cluny in the sketch is now a won­der­ful mu­seum. In the too-long in­ter­vals be­tween trips to the City of Lights, I of­ten find my­self ab­sorbed in this print. It sus­tains my con­nec­tion to Paris and to the lit­er­ary giants who lived and loved there nearly 100 years ago.

A two-time win­ner of the Stephen Lea­cock Medal for Hu­mour, Terry Fal­lis ( @Ter­ry­fal­lis) is the au­thor of six na­tional best­selling nov­els.

What’s your favourite travel sou­venir? Tell us the story be­hind it on (@Can­geo_­travel) and (@can­geo­travel).

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