Paris, Clichés and New Books


I am in Paris again and as I have said before, just a little bit of sun turns this city into, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in the world. And I love Pont Neuf, which for some reason is my image of the city. Yes, I know this all sounds pretty cliché, but let me add another cliché into the mix: the bread really is that good.


Another common cliché about Paris is the poor quality of service. Nevertheless, in my interactions so far with the French bureaucracy, I have experienced the opposite. In one instance, a public functionary was even suspiciously pleasant. Taxi drivers and waiters are another question. While I would much rather eat food prepared in Paris, I would much rather eat it physically in Madrid where I don’t have to share the table with complete strangers while being barely attended to by someone who doesn’t like me.

Finally, Parisians are known for being pseudo-intellectual snobs. I can’t really attest to that, but the city definitely has an excellent cultural offering that simply wouldn’t exist without a demand for it. More importantly for me, Paris has a few excellent English language book stores, and now whenever I come to town, I refresh my reading list.

At the end of April I purchased three books all of which I have since finished and enjoyed: The Cosmic War by Reza Aslan, Drown by Junot Diaz and The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa. Yesterday I went back again and got copies of Olive Kitteridge, this year’s Pulitzer Prize winning book by Elizabeth Strout, Kazuo Ishiguro’s new Nocturnes, and Amos Oz’s latest novel, Rhyming Life and Death.



Filed under Digressions, Literature

3 responses to “Paris, Clichés and New Books

  1. Melissa Levine

    OMG I was going to recommend Olive Kitteridge to you! Even though I’m not sure it’ll suit your taste. I read *Amy and Isabelle* (her first book) a couple of months ago and loved it, so I immediately went out and got *Olive* and *Abide with Me* (her second). I loved all of them, although *Abide with Me* is a little frustrating in that the ways that its central characters are lost is sort of agonizingly obvious. At any rate, *Olive Kitteridge* is wonderful. I hope you like it.

  2. Sorin

    At first I thought I recongnize the image of Pont Neuf from a picture with Cortazar (this one but it is a slightly different angle.

    Anyhows, I love Paris for the cultural references (aha, so this is where the three musqueteers used to… and so on), I guess this is because I used to learn French at school. My wife who learned English at school is the same abt London.

    On the account of Cortazar I also like the metro in Paris and the restaurant Le chien qui fume. 🙂 That was in 1998. Sweet memories!

    Nice selection of books you’ve got there!

  3. eric

    La Chien qui fume is right around the corner from where I always stay in Paris.

    And the first image is from a Bill Evans Live in Paris album.

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