|Paris to the Moon
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Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk caf¨¦s, breathtaking fa?ades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans.
In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light. Gopnik is a longtime New Yorker writer, and the magazine has sent its writers to Paris for decades--but his was above all a personal pilgrimage to the place that had for so long been the undisputed capital of everything cultural and beautiful. It was also the opportunity to raise a child who would know what it was to romp in the Luxembourg Gardens, to enjoy a croque monsieur in a Left Bank caf¨¦--a child (and perhaps a father, too) who would have a grasp of that Parisian sense of style we Americans find so elusive.
So, in the grand tradition of the American abroad, Gopnik walked the paths of the Tuileries, enjoyed philosophical discussions at his local bistro, wrote as violet twilight fell on the arrondissements. Of course, as readers of Gopnik's beloved and award-winning "Paris Journals" in The New Yorker know, there was also the matter of raising a child and carrying on with day-to-day, not-so-fabled life. Evenings with French intellectuals preceded middle-of-the-night baby feedings; afternoons were filled with trips to the Mus¨¦e d'Orsay and pinball games; weekday leftovers were eaten while three-star chefs debated a "culinary crisis."
As Gopnik describes in this funny and tender book, the dual processes of navigating a foreign city and becoming a parent are not completely dissimilar journeys--both hold new routines, new languages, a new set of rules by which everyday life is lived. With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. "We went to Paris for a sentimental reeducation-I did anyway-even though the sentiments we were instructed in were not the ones we were expecting to learn, which I believe is why they call it an education."
In 1995 Gopnik was offered the plush assignment of writing the "Paris Journals" for the New Yorker. He spent five years in Paris with his wife, Martha, and son, Luke, writing dispatches now collected here along with previously unpublished journal entries. A self-described "comic-sentimental essayist," Gopnik chose the romance of Paris in its particulars as his subject. Gopnik falls in unabashed love with what he calls Paris's commonplace civilization--the caf¨¦s, the little shops, the ancient carousel in the park, and the small, intricate experiences that happen in such settings. But Paris can also be a difficult city to love, particularly its pompous and abstract official culture with its parallel paper universe. The tension between these two sides of Paris and the country's general brooding over the decline of French dominance in the face of globalization (haute couture, cooking, and sex, as well as the economy, are running deficits) form the subtexts for these finely wrought and witty essays. With his emphasis on the micro in the macro, Gopnik describes trying to get a Thanksgiving turkey delivered during a general strike and his struggle to find an apartment during a government scandal over favoritism in housing allocations. The essays alternate between reports of national and local events and accounts of expatriate family life, with an emphasis on "the trinity of late-century bourgeois obsessions: children and cooking and spectator sports, including the spectator sport of shopping." Gopnik describes some truly delicious moments, from the rites of Parisian haute couture, to the "occupation" of a local brasserie in protest of its purchase by a restaurant tycoon, to the birth of his daughter with the aid of a doctor in black jeans and a black silk shirt, open at the front. Gopnik makes terrific use of his status as an observer on the fringes of fashionable society to draw some deft comparisons between Paris and New York ("It is as if all American appliances dreamed of being cars while all French appliances dreamed of being telephones") and do some incisive philosophizing on the nature of both. This is masterful reportage with a winning infusion of intelligence, intimacy, and charm. --Lesley Reed
- Unoriginal, self-centered and dated
The book feels dated when you read it years after it was published, as it focuses too much on political issues that gripped France in the late 1990's. You're better off going back to a newspaper archive. Interestingly, there are brief mentions of terrorism that are treated off-hand as if it were a mosquito interferring with the author's sleep. Perhaps it illustrates how dismissive we all were of terrorism prior to 9/11.
The author also makes the mistake of equating Parisians with the French at large, but I think anyone who has travelled widely in France knows this is not the case. Little is of transcendence in Mr. Gopnik's account.
Another thing I could not stomach --perhaps because I am childless-- is the author's focus on his son, Luke Auden (I had to roll my eyes every time the full first & middle names came up -- ironically, the son prefers at one point to be plainly called "Luca"). In typical Upper West Side Liberal Yuppie Narcissist fashion, the author thinks the entire world is interested in learning about his son's development. Well, we're not, and these accounts are better suited to mass e-mails sent to the Gopnik family rather than a wide audience.
The writing also possesses a faux naivete that appears to be completely fabricated. I would have expected deeper analysis of certain issues and experiences, but the author floods page after page with inane detail.
I gave up reading this book 3/4 of the way. There are blogs by expatriates living in Paris that make far more interesting reading....more info
- Boring. Boring, boring, boring, BORING!!!
Growing up, I was (and still am) fortunate enough to spend my summers in Paris, visiting my grandparents, and other relatives living in France. So, as you can imagine, I absolutely love reading anything about France. After reading the reviews on here, I was extremely excited about picking up Paris to the Moon, and OH MY GOSH! Do not be fooled by these reviews! This book is so pretentious, I had trouble getting through the first few chapters, and once I reached his discussion of the variety of different wall plugs that exist in this world (which went on for PAGES), I'd had enough! Anyone who believes themselves to be so self-important that they can pass off the discussion of different wall plugs as great writing, and believes that THIS is the drivel that keeps the readers turning the pages, needs a severe reality check.
If you want a lovely, interesting, and vivid account of French or Parisian life, stick with Peter Mayle, or check out "Almost French" by Sarah Turnbull, instead....more info
- Smug, egotistical drivel
I bought this book because I'd read positive reviews of it. Gopnik immediately informs us of his stellar New Yorker connections, and no doubt some arms must have been twisted in book criticland. The personality which emerges from this collection is of someone who has floated up to his level without much evidence of sensitivity to or knowledge of his subject....more info
- A wonderful book about cultural interchange...
I just want to thank Adam Gopnik for this wonderful book. I am a passionate consumer of travel books and more precisely of essays that tell stories of people confronting their own views of things, their own cultural backgrounds with those of the new culture they are visiting, and how that experience helps them grow and mature in their own lives (I highly recommend "The Road to Santiago" by Cees Noteboom). Mr. Gopnik succeeds in writing a very enjoyable book, capturing all the sensuality of Paris life by disclosing the pleasure of everyday things in a way only a witty-intellectual foreigner person could do....more info
- Not Listener Friendly
I have always enjoyed Adam Gopnik's writing, so when I set out on a long drive I was looking forward to listening to him read his own book, From Paris to the Moon. But I turned off the CD after a while because Gopnik is such a second-rate reader. He drops his voice at the end of a sentence and over-emphasizes phrase divisions, so the general effect is bumpy, monotonous and tiresome. Who chooses the reader of audio books, I wonder? Does the author always have first dibs? In this case, an experienced speaker would have done better by the book than did the author....more info
- Love this book!
I wanted this book to go on forever. I found it to be a very comforting, curl up in front of the fire, listening to jazz kind of book. Maybe I relate to it because I have two boys and adore Paris, I don't know... but I really enjoyed it.
It is completely unlike other books about Paris-- which I read whenever I get the chance. It is much more about the family in Paris than Paris itself, which gives a completely different perspective (obviously, since everyone would experience a place differently). Anyway, I fell in love with the entire family and Paris all over again....more info
- Heart warming.
This is collection of essays written by Gopnik, while he was posted to Paris, by the New Yorker Magazine, between 1995 and 2000. Gopnik characterises the French as overly intellectual, valuing wit over humour, valuing theory over practicality; however in the initial essays I thought Gopnik was committing these errors himself. There is an essay about the error messages of French fax machines, which takes the messages as indicative of the French attitude to the world. I found this essay amusing, but overly witty rather than funny, and plausible, if requiring a suspension of disbelief. In fact I thought that Gopnik might fill the essay's with methaphors for France or the French or Europeans, and I considered giving it up about the Fax essay. In fact, I took up `The Looming Tower', which I found to be unutterably sad, and found that I returned periodically to Gopnik for some reassurance.
The essay's themselves revolved around the author's domestic life in Paris, his difficulties getting an apartment, taking his son to the park, taking his son swimming, cooking. He intersperses these with observations on French and American culture. I found the later essays more personal, less analytical, but the writing was just as inviting and gifted as at first.
In fact there are two classic essays about Gopnik's efforts, along with a group of concerned citizens, to save their favourite restaurant - the Brasserie Balzac - from being taken over by a (French) conglomerate personified by its owner Jean-Paul Bucher. The manoeuvrings of the plotters, the reaction of the restaurant staff, and the final outwitting of all the above by Bucher are a joy to read.
Reading the book, at this remove and along with the Looming Tower, make me think about the fact that Gopnik's essays, witty, amusing, domestic were written at the same time as the threat from Al Queda was emerging, but being underestimated. It made me yearn somewhat for the nineties, when all that seemed to bother us was the personal troubles of the US president. Gopnik returned to New York for the millennium and I believe has a new(ish) book of essays coming out about his time there. I will definitely read them.
While I started out being put off by the whimsical content of the essays, in the end I became glad that Western society can create a space for such a talented writer to exercise his craft on such, apparently, slight topics. In reality of course, and Gopnik quotes Maupassant on this, the very familiarity of the tale leads to its being hugely personal and important.
- Uneven read
Adam Gopnick moves his wife and infant son to Paris from New York City. He works for the New Yorker so all this is possible. And although the book at times is just hilarious, funny, and insightful, many of the chapters read like they were separate New Yorker articles. There is a wonderful story of his trying to first find a gym to join, and then joining process and then the discovery of how the French use the gym. This little gem may be worth the price of the book alone. But later I found an "article" on the fashion industry just boring. I found the book to be a very uneven read that I could only recommend to persons going to visit or live in France....more info
- Paris: from the Inside by an Outsider
Living in Paris was the dream and wish of this author since he
first visited during his teenage years. It has been said, "once, you visit Paris, you must return ..." and much of the allure is based on the desire to relive the memories of the first meal ever consumed there, recalling all the tantalizing and delicious flavors that only Parisians can create. The book is essentially a 4 year memoir of living in Paris from the mid-1990s. The author is a writer for the New Yorker magazine, his wife a screenplay writer, who, along with their infant son, pack up and leave their home in New York, for the adventure of a lifetime. What I loved most about the book is how the author compares and contrasts American thinking, logic, and values with those of the socialistic, French, cosmopolitan view. The book is educational, literary, entertaining and occasionally amusing. The author's technique of interspersing French history and political outlook with current events and situations is particularly effective. The author writes with first hand knowledge about fashion shows held by the elite designers, the Parisian cuisine of the most well-established restaurants, reasons for some fo the strikes, the socialistic approach to healthcare, and even apartment hunting, explaining how & why the government owns apartments in the "best" neighborhoods, available only to highly elected officals. Of interest to me, was a chapter on the political trial of a government official who had been involved in processing the paperwork for Jews who were deported to concentration camps during World War II - the sobering past is never too far away. My favorite story was the "Balzar Wars" in which a group of restaurant regulars (well established customers) form an "association" to stand up for the rights of the waiters (garcons) when an restaurant tycoon buys this favorite restaurant of theirs ... The author describes favorite "haunts" of his such as museums, art galleries, parks near the Left Bank, and even how to maneuver through the red-tape of the "Bibliotheque National" (Naitonal Library). He also describes the favorite places of his son, who is around 2 - 3 years of age by then. Another charming story was his son's first "love affair" with a Parisian blond beauty, of about 4 years of age. There is just the right combination of intellectual discourse, creative description and chatty banter, to create a hihgly pleasurable reading experience.
Erika Borsos (erikab93)...more info
- Sip it like champagne.
I sipped this book much like one sips a glass of champagne. I began reading it the last week of May, and it took me until early this morning to complete it. Allow me to explain.
Gopnik is a columnist for The New Yorker, which means that his style can be...well, a bit thick. His prose is often syrupy like pouring thick molasses from a jar. It's best enjoyed in small bites. I would often read only a chapter at a time to digest what I'd read: in-depth descriptions of French bureaucracy, a sit-in at the brasserie Balzar, and other complicated scenarios that required contemplation. Another problem, if you can deign to call it such, is that Gopnik failed to define certain French terms to the reader who might not be familiar with the French language.
Perhaps the most enjoyable portions of the book are when Gopnik writes about his family, in particular his son Luke. Luke is an interesting character because he isn't quite American but neither is he quite French. He's held in limbo because of his expat parents. Curiously, Luke seemed to me more adult than child at times. In particular, his expressions are uniquely European. For instance, when he has a crush on a fellow schoolgirl, he says, "She's quite a dish!" What a way to describe someone, especially coming from a child of four or five!
Gopnik really doesn't write much about his wife, Martha. We know that she played a large part in the decision to move from New York City to Paris, but she actually plays a minor role in his book and is mentioned surprisingly infrequently.
Overall, it was an interesting piece about French culture if a bit difficult to read at times. I do think it would have been easier to read if I was a regular reader of his column at the time the family resided in Paris. And perhaps the average reader couldn't relate to just moving to Paris in a whim. But because I moved to a city on just such a whim, I felt a kinship with Gopnik and his family. It is his appreciation and attempts to understand the culture he suddenly became immersed in that caused me to continue to turn the pages....more info
- Paris to the Moon -- 5 Stars
The author has brought Paris, as Parisians experience it, to those of us who can't be there. My wife saw my borrowed copy lying around and read it cover to cover before I could do so. Then she bought a copy from Amazon to send to her sister (who spent her Junior year in Paris back in the '60s). She loved it, too. A fun book!
Paris to the Moon ...more info
- liked it as a different kind of Paris guide book
I love Paris and I love reading books about experiences in Paris. Granted, the authors view is from quite a privileged standpoint. However, he does struggle with the every day mundane problems that make this book a good read. It is a different from the Peter Mayle books, since he does not really offer any new insights into the life of the french, but I think it is absolutely worth it if you haven't been to Paris for a while and just want to escape to it in your own mind. ...more info
- "New Yorker" Writer Shares Family Life in Paris
This wonderful book is a collection of essays by Adam Gopnik, author of "Paris Journal" in "The New Yorker" magazine. He, his wife, and son Luke (a prominent figure in these tales of expat life in Paris) resided in Paris for five years as he penned his musings for the magazine. In this picturesque tale of Parisian life, Gopnik chronicles living as "an American in Paris," following in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and James Baldwin, revisiting their sites and discovering his own.
Gopnik chronicles the changing world as seen through one American's eyes. He addresses the global economy, the decline of French cuisine, and the effort to bolster a neighborhood cafe so that it would not become simply another victim of global homogenization. All of these topics, however, are tackled with a individualized view to telling the tale. Injecting his own experiences with French bureaucracy and society, Gopnik brings a fresh eye to the subjects at hand.
Yet what is most charming in the book are his personal stories of family life and the adjustment to bringing a new child into the world in a foreign country. This tender account of life with children makes the book a standout from other expatriate tales. You will love the stories of exploring Paris's parks and cafes with toddler in tow.
This charming tale of Parisian life was a bestseller and comes highly recommended from the "New York Times" Book Review Section. From me, too...more info
- Take me to Paris
What can I say about a book that let me journey to Paris along with the author? It is an evocative read and even musical in tone. I love the asides such as Barney in Paris (the comparison of Barney to Bill Clinton is Priceless) and the stories about his child are charming. The only thing this book lacks (and this could be my personal bias) is a description of married life for the couple in Paris. What IS married life in Paris like for two Americans?? Wish I knew a bit more on the topic. But other than that, this is a travelogue with heart....more info
- Death by commas!!,,,,
I enjoy travel essays, but this was so hard to get through. The author tries to clarify his clarifications in depth all in one sentence. He also goes over the top with words only a francophile would know. I believe the author needs to get over himself and remember, you are writing travel essays, not an encyclopedia of your life....more info
- Ex-Pat in Paris
A lovely memoir blending the mundane activities of life as an ex-pat with the "only in Paris" characters Adam Gropnik surrounds himself (and us) with. I loved his stories in the New Yorker when he was in Paris and the book makes me want to go back and read them again now that I know the back story.
Michael Duranko, Bootism: a shoe religion...more info
- To the Moon, Paris...I mean Alice
Gopnik's Parisian Moon must look like one of those ying-yang circle symbols. There is a lot of "he was neither kidding nor not kidding" (page 299) rhetorical flim-flam philosophizing. Parisians are exasperating and not exasperating, the moon is half-full/the moon is half-new.
But somebody (an editor!) forgot to tell Gopnik that whether the glass is half empty or half full, it needs to be filled with one drink or else it confuses the sipper. He is bound to bore you with one or more of the chapters, in my case it started with the very first chapter, about a transportation labor strike. French political organizations were not what I was hoping to read about when I cracked open this book And, I don't mind the doting-father comments about what his child says and does but plenty of other reviewers found it conceited. I loved the sections on couture and cuisine, although other readers may like the chapters on soccer and baseball.
I found the style and substance of this book to be along the lines of the occasional breathless, sometimes boozy type of email communications an ex-pat might write home to friends and family about the oddities and idiosyncracies of his temporary foreign home. The tone also needed to be reviewed by an editor before publication, as it leaps lot and sometimes crash lands. In addition, there was a lot of substituting of a foreign word here/there which is supposed to be interpreted on-the-fly by the reader, as, well, the writer is so immersed in his new culture he has temporarily forgotten the English equivalent. Some of the foreign insertions are obvious, some are not.
This book was good but it was not good. I think Gopnik should have sent his editor to the moon in a fusil with a boring account of how the Transportation Union was on strike and could not replace the jammed landing-gear taped to the lever....more info
- A great, and timely, read!
In this thoroughly charming collection of related essays, Adam Gopnik has rendered the contradictory impulses of the modern, well-educated ¨¦migr¨¦. Thoroughly American, he nonetheless has a lifelong love of France and French culture. Raising his son and bearing a daughter with his wife during a 5-year stay in Paris, he comes to feel that he will never be totally comfortable in either world. He finds that this will be doubly true for his son, returning to his birthplace after spending his most formative years immersed in Parisian daily life.
In these writings Gopnik does a superb job of skewering the uniquely French capacity for abstraction, particularly in the bureaucracy of the State, and consequently also the uniquely American worship of the concrete and absolute. He leaves it to the reader to conclude that there are things none too pretty about both cultures, as well as things of great worth. That these cultural differences may be at the root of the current trans-Atlantic friction will not be lost on the thoughtful reader - nor will Gopnik's delicately-crafted reminders of the things that those of us who have spent time in France have come to love about the French people. The writing is gifted, and the prose has a cadence that nearly creates a meditative state. Highly recommended, particularly for those drowning in cynicism....more info
- Armchair Travel at its Best
What a nostalgic delight this is for anyone who's been embraced by the warm graciousness of the typical Parisian, found community in a favorite local bistro, or sampled a diminutive artistic pastry treat from Laduree at Christmas time.
Adam Gopnik makes you laugh as you also recall the first time you tried to peck out an email on a French keyboard, or had to sweat out any one of a number of strike threats, just like his pregnant wife who wanted to make sure all the anesthesiologists were very "happy" with their employment right around the time she was to give birth.
Gopnik loved the anonymity of NY, but also the Parisian way of life where you are familiar with everyone with whom you come in contact right down to the dry cleaner. He tried sprinting with other Americans in the left bank's Luxembourg gardens in an effort to engage in sports. And absent a gym, bought a summer "spa" pass so he could exercise with a swim in the pool at the Ritz where he found most Europeans simply dangling their legs while eating tea sandwiches from silver trays.
With just a few words, he embodies the lovely and luxurious ambiance of his home away from home, "Parisians are just busy 'being.'"...more info
- Book to the bottom of my pile of dirty laundry
The WORST book I've ever read. I bought it originally to share a unique feeling you get from visiting Paris. The only thing I could share with the author was the need to sell this book. His stories were pretentious and so full of arrogance, I couldn't follow along. He talks about streets and hotels that only the rich have seen. Unless you've been there, you feel excluded. He certainly is no Peter Mayle. With Mayle's books, you yearn to visit his world and do what he's done. With Gopnick, you physically yearn for the book to be over. I can't remember how many times I put the book down in disgust or how many stories I half-finished to hopefully find one more interesting. However, guilt was the only reason I ever finally finished the book, and I'm so glad that I've gotten rid of it today. It was a waste of time and of money. I would recommend you buy twenty copies of Mayle's books. You'll finish them all ahead of this one. (A little note--The question is not whether you agree with my review. It's whether it's helpful or not. Use that criteria when clicking above.)...more info
- Not worth the time
This book is not funny nor lyrical. It does not produce what its title suggests. This book is a crashing bore. Though I finished it (due to compulsion only), I finished it in a very angry state of mind -- feeling used, abused, ripped off (as if I had been locked in a train compartment with someone who was going to show me every boring photograph of his kid, tell me every 'cute' anecdote about the kid, every scrapbook memory to demonstrate the kid's precociousness, not to mention every ho-hum anecdote to demonstrate the adoring care of Gopnik pere to Gopnik fils.)
Gopnik mere, on the other hand, is a shadow who appears most vividly once to complain about the bills monsieur accumulates to pay for hot chocolate for the kids at the Ritz swimming pool and once more to make sure she gets an epidural during labor. Madame Gopnik must be a true hero to endure this self-adoring papa.
Gopnik, fascinated by his own discovery of metaphor (not to mention his kid's same discovery at the age of 4 or 5 and about which we get to hear endlessly) really needed an editor. In an otherwise, somewhat interesting description of a new Library complex, we get to hear about 'caged' and 'chained' plants three times. Once was interesting, twice was obtrusive. Third time I almost started screaming 'Where is the editor?' Well, the editor -- and the writer -- were both 'out to lunch' as we say in New York....more info
- For Use As A Mild Sleep Aid...
I am a huge fan of travel essay, especially when France is the location, but I can't tell you how disappointed I was with this book. I knew I was in trouble when I was on page 75 and I was waiting for the story to begin and realized IT HAD! THIS WAS IT! I can hardly believe the author is a successful writer, because I found each page painfully boring. I, myself, am married with children, so I was really looking forward to reading this book to get a glimpse of life in Paris from the point of view of raising a child there as an American, but I found nothing enchanting or even mildly interesting about his days spent with his little boy. As a matter of fact, if they took one more trip to the Les Tuileries I was ready to scream (or fall asleep)! Yes, Tuileries Garden is a wonderful place for children (and adults), my children love it there too when we visit France, but I hoped to read a bit more about family life in Paris -as a foreigner adjusting to French life. The writing just seemed to go on and on and on into nowhere. I kept thinking of that line from the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" when Steve Martin says to John Candy, (who talks and talks incessantly about NOTHING during the entire film): "Everything that happens in your life is NOT an anecdote. You have to discriminate and choose things that are funny, mildly amusing, or INTERESTING!" I have to say the same to Adam Gopnik. I sadly must give this book one star because I could not even get through this book, it was THAT boring, I had to return it. For a fun read on France read the series by Peter Mayle or Stephen Clarke, or even "Almost French" by Sarah Turnball, but don't waste your time with this book unless you have insomnia....more info
- if we were all so lucky
This book was an entertaining escape that probably speaks to most of us who would love to spend 5 years in a fantastic foreign city raising our young child/children. For the average person this is fairly unlikely but if you can't do it at least you can read about it. Yes, he lives a luxurious life but personally I enjoy reading about the things I can't afford to do (even when I do manage to get to Paris). It has high points and less high points but I found it to be one of my favorite reads. Although America is a great country there is something terribly refreshing about the idea of bringing up kids in an entirely different environment. And as the daughter of a French mom I found many of the insights to be rather amusing. And remember, this is just Paris, not all of France....more info
- 4.5 stars is a good read, as long as you are not expecting something it's not.
It's not an atmospheric travel memoir; it's not a memoir of youth (except in so far as a father relates to his young son); it's not "Almost French".
But it is an extremely good insight into recent French politics; And it is an American journalist's documented 'thinking about the French and trying to understand them/describe them/contrast with them'; Expect lots of politics, and you should well enjoy. ...more info
- What a joy - and I'm a Gallephobe!
Gopnik is a wonderful writer, and his love of Paris, his wife and his son come through. It's hard not to like him because he acknowledges his Achilles heel and quirks.
The his description of his son in his stroller in the Paris department store is a good example of just what a fine writer he is. He shares not only the physical image of his son (a cobra in mittens, I believe), but lets us experience his feelings for his young child. Paris to the Moon is on my shelf next to Speak, Memory, by Nabokov (a great passage in there about looking at the lawn through different panels of stained glass!)...more info
- AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
I had not really heard of this book until I saw Gopnik on Charle Rose after the interview I knew I had to go out and get this book. I can honestly say I was not disappointed, it is a quick read and I was fascinated at the authors experience as an American living in Paris. At times he name drops and you sort of feel he is one of these insipid, fey people, like the annoying Arthur Slesinger, Jr., who's easily impressed by famous people and famous places, but overall, I liked what he had to say and he's a very good writer, I really felt I was in Paris with him at times. ...more info
- Too much Parisian time of his hands
Although Gopnik is quite a good writer, hence the 2 stars, this appeared to be written by a man with way too much time on his hands; a nice enough guy, whose main flaw is that he is utterly self-absorbed. Several of his essays are touching, others a tedious prattle about his children. He led such a little life in Paris, seemed bored by it all, and by way of using his life as a vehicle for representing the larger Paris, describes a Paris that is as dull as dishwater. The "New Yorker" apparently had underwritten this adventure and should have pulled the plug long before his 5 years. (He lived in one of the most expensive areas in Paris) He and his wife had no working life to speak of, therefore his extended Paris stay was very unnatural. He hung out. He did not engage in any real reporting or travel beyond his upper middle class circles. He actually described himself as a Yuppie. He eventually moved back to New York, to a life of "dinners and gallery openings" - please!!. I am now convinced that all the breathless quotes on the cover were written by people who had not actually read the book. The bookclub question guide at the end is an absolute hoot not to mention an added insult to the reader. For better insight into Parisian life, travel there for a week....more info