Thursday, October 02, 2008

There's Always Room for One More Book

I've received a number of books for review, which the authors or publishers think might tie in with the themes of Polly-Vous Français. Since I have quite a backlog of reviews to write, I'm just going to scribble a few heartfelt thumbnail sketches and encourage everyone to READ MORE BOOKS.

You can always watch the movie version or sitcom or miniseries later; just read the book now. These books. Other books. Read books!

Okay, end of Mommy-Vous Français lecture.

For starters, two books about France in general.

The first one is totally delicious. So delicious it makes me drool with envy. Gastronomie! is the result of a couple's pilgrimage across France visiting food museums and food heritage sites in all regions of the Hexagon. Tom Hughes and Meredith Sayles Hughes traipsed across the French countryside, from the Hotel-Restaurant Tatin in Lamotte Beuvron, birthplace of the tarte tatin, to the Maison de la Chicoree in Orchies, to the Musee du Tire-Bouchon in Menerbes. They recount their travels (and those meals!) in easy-to-follow itineraries that will get you itching to pack your suitcase and forswearing that diet.

Next is a book that you might pass over, assuming it's just another photograph coffee-table book of Paris. Au contraire. Historic Photos of Paris is not a mere compendium of excellent antique photos, dating from the earliest days of photography in Paris. Author Rebecca Schall has written a compelling social history of Paris and France using the photos as a springboard. These are not merely captions, but rich text, clearly written, that gives a better understanding of the whys and hows of Paris today through the lens of history. I learned a lot. It's the kind of coffee table book that I will actually read and re-read.

The next books fall under the veni, vidi, vici category.

Petite Anglaise needs no introduction to francophile blog readers the world over. The subtitle is "In Paris. In Love. In Trouble." But first and foremost this book is a blook (a term I just learned; I think I got it right.) And a blook worth reading not because it primarily features Catherine in Paris or love or trouble so much as her "blogging in Paris, in love with blogging, and in trouble with blogging." Many tomes have already been written about life journeys in Paris; and to me the great merit of Catherine's book -- what kept me eagerly turning the pages -- is that it lets you into the mind of a blogger. The life of a blogger. Paris is the mere backdrop. When does a blogger reveal the details she chooses, and why? And how does she handle interactions with readers? It's gripping. So whether you are a blogger or a reader of blogs, this blook is for you.

I haven't yet read Laurel Zuckerman's Sorbonne Confidential, but from the reviews I've read and some excerpts, it's a witty and trenchant view of an American's experience inside the most famous French educational institution. The French translation was published by Fayard, and this month her original English version will be launched. To hear more and to meet Laurel herself, you can attend a reading at WH Smith on October 14 at 7:30 pm.

Adam Shepard's book has nothing to do with Paris but everything to do with starting all over and making a new life for yourself. Scratch Beginnings recounts Adam's journey as a recent college grad who decided to see if he could start from scratch in a new town, with just a duffel bag and $25 and no connections, and have a functioning car, a place to live , and $2500 savings by then end of a year. No small feat. Harper Collins will have the book on the shelves October 14 as well. Bless that boy, he told me, "I've been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, NPR, Christian Science Monitor, The New York Post…blah, blah, blah." Nothing blah about that!

So I think there is still room for another Paris veni-vidi-vici book, one with a twist at the end. Yet to be written or published. A divorced woman starts a new life in Paris, plans to stay "until I've seen all there is to see," i.e. forever. She has innovative, creative ideas for making a permanent life here, starts a kind of funny blog, writes half a manuscript with a French woman, gets filmed in a documentary, writes some articles, edits a book, discovers the daily joys and frustrations and indelible infatuation with the most beautiful city on the planet, and re-discovers herself in the process. Gradually the economy erodes her ability to make the Paris present continue into the Paris future, and she realizes her time in the City of Light has come to an end. She has still conquered, though, because she'll always have Paris in her heart, her soul, and her bones, when she says au revoir and moves back to the States in November. The book's title, of course, will be Polly-Vous Français.

I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.


Isabelle said...

Polly, you are not really moving back to the US in November, it was just a joke right?

Anne said...

say it isn't so!!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Hi Anne and Isabelle,

Sorry to say, but it's not fiction or a joke. I'll keep blogging.

I'm heartbroken beyond expression to leave.

All I can say is that if I'm moving back, Obama better win!

I'll be back someday, and will visit as often as possible.

Isabelle said...

This stupid shower of yours has finally won the battle, hasn't she?

I'm so sad about the news, I'm a big fan of your blog, your style and your humor, so I'll keep on reading whatever next blog you have in mind :)

J said...

Oh Polly, I feel bad for anyone living in or moving back to the US right now, but I understand how the economy is making it hard to succeed anywhere. :( I will feel even worse if Obama doesn't win. What a scary thought!!!

Hope you'll continue writing and blogging!

Alison said...

Oh noes! :(

I hope you will still be around for les vacances de la Toussaint, as we will be in Paris then. I was just about to e-mail you to ask if you wanted any Halloween candy or anything else.

M said...

Oh, that is not good to hear. I hope you find a way back there as soon as you are able to.

I'll be interested to see the book that comes from the experience.

sparrow said...

What a wonderful blog... I just discovered it a few weeks back, and have become an avid fan. I'm so sorry that you won't be able to stay in France forever, but France is a part of you now. I will buy your book if you write it (and please please do), and I will read those that you recommended, too. Thanks so much and best wishes.

laurie said...

Dear Polly,
I'm so sorry to hear that you are leaving Paris. I've enjoyed the information you have posted in your blog and I look forward to your "blook." Hopefully, it will be a real book since you are a wonderful writer. Please let your readers know when it will be published.

Caro said...

Polly, I can't believe you're leaving Paris. Last year when I was at Sciences Po, sometimes reading your blog was the only thing that kept me from planning an attack on that god-forsaken school. I had to leave, too, but at least then you get to think of all the ways you can come back (which i am definitely going to do asap!) I'll miss your Paris stories since I could always relate to them (I lived in the 7th too!). Best of luck in your new endeavors and hopefully we can meet in Paris someday!


Evelyn said...

Oh no!! Here's a plan....all of us, your fans, will buy your book, make you a fabulously wealthy author, and you can then afford to move back to Paris. Of course, you'll have to promise that we can all come visit you. I've already decided that if Obama doesn't win, I'll have to seriously crank up my schemes/dreams to move to France myself.

Joan said...

Count me in among the heartbroken... I've discovered you so recently that I haven't even read through the archives yet. Please keep blogging; no matter what you do next I will enjoy reading about it.

Larry said...

I'm really sad that you are leaving Paris. I live in the states and religously read your blog every day. It's part of my morning routine. I visit Paris for a month every year or so and reading your blog kind of takes me there. I guess you could say I visit Paris vicariously through your blog. You have a great writing style and I hope you keep blogging and do write that book.

Lora said...

I'm so sorry, Polly....

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Bonjour, everyone--
It's been a sad day, finally acknowledging what I've kind of known for several months -- why I was so bereft that evening in the neighborhood epicerie this August when I burst into tears realizing that I would be probably be leaving my newfound "family" in Paris -- even before I announced it to the blogosphere.

I'll still be keeping 100% tuned to life in Paris until I depart -- and hopefully to a certain extent after I leave.

The best part is that the past three years in Paris have changed me for the good, forever, and I have zero regrets about the time here. I'd return again in a nanosecond.

Even despite the shower and plumbing issues, Isabelle!!!

Stay tuned for updates and more upbeat posts in the next six weeks.

Anne Marie said...

Quelle Malheure...I too have been enjoying Paris vicariously through your wonderful blogs. Paris is not just a place to visit but it becomes part of your soul. But, I will faithfully wait for whatever is next in your life if you are able to share are an amazing writer. What a gift!

Anna said...

Oh, so sorry Polly that you were beaten by the complete fiasco that is the Bush American economy...

As a reader of your blog from the start (and I always preferred your metro banner, btw!) I realise that I never knew what you did for a living in Paris - did you ever tell us? The post about the house guest will never be forgotten :-)

The Duchess said...

I can only imagine how hard it will be to leave Paris. I've enjoyed reading your take on life in the city and hope that you will one day be able to come back 'home'.
Good luck with the move and we'll be waiting to hear all about your next adventure.
Bon courage!

French Spanish Online said...

I would like to introduce my websites to you and let you decide the interest for yours:
Http:// is all about French for English speakers, it is free with mp3 files; the same for Spanish learners.

The Inside Skinny Girl said...

I'll chime in, too, because I just caught your news: THIS SUCKS! I'm so sorry you're leaving and hope you'll be able to come back soon if only for visits. Whatever the reasons may be for your departure, Paris will always be a part of your soul now. Stay in touch!

Unknown said...

Bonjour Polly,

oh j'espère qu'un jour vous écrirez ce livre et qu'il sera publié! J'adore vous lire, et ce faisant, je découvre un Paris totalement différent de celui que je vois quand j'y viens pour raisons professionnelles, un Paris que je pourrais peut-être aimer, un Paris insolite et sympathique. Comme quoi tout est dans l'oeil de celui ou celle qui regarde. Par ailleurs, j'adore votre style. S'il vous plaît continuez à écrire et à partager ces instants de vie, vous lire est un réel bonheur.

Et si vous viennent des heures sombres, surtout pensez que ce ne sera qu'un au revoir. Il faut que vous reveniez. J'ai l'impression que vous aimez plus la France que la majorité des Français eux-mêmes !

Yours friendly

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