Thomas Bernhard in Person

Well in the run up to Thomas Bernhard week I decide to watch a couple of things on You tube .I always love to place and see the writer as a person .So with my basic schoolboy German I watch these .First is a documentary with Bernhard talking about why he writes .

The next piece was a staging of Letter Bernhard had written over the years to his German Publisher Siegfried Unseld .I beleive these are in process of being translated into in english .

The German paper Die Zeit had this to say about this book

 

»Great cinema, a publisher and his pugnacious author write one another. And themselves. Correspondence as Fight Club.« Florian Illies, Die Zeit

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A journey to nowhere by Jean-Paul Kauffmann

A journey to nowhere (detours and riddles in the lands and history of Courland) by Jean-Paul Kuaffmann

French non fiction

Translator Euan Cameron

Jean-Paul Kaufmann is a french Journalist ,he was born in Mayenne france .He became a Journalist and started working for the french press agency in Beirut in Lebanon in the 80’s in 1985 he was kidnapped and held for three years ,after the intervention of the French government was freed .He returned to France and started a magazine ,and at this time he started writing travel books and then in 2007 wrote about his captivity in Lebanon .He also wrote a book about Napoleon and St Helena ,this won a number of prizes  This book was published in 2009 in french and this year by Machlehose press in English .

Well a journey to nowhere ,is a real journey to nowhere .We follow Jean-paul who via a french Canadian called Mara  when he is national service ,discovered this place called Courland in the book on the french king louis XVII he sees the mention of a prince from this place he ask Mara she says find out about it that is what Jean-paul does that on his return from national service .Now I didn’t know about Courland til I opened this book ,it turns out in the opening pages the french writer Marguerite Yourcenar called Coup de grace was set the it is in the Baltic region  and makes up what is now called Latvia but it’s  Northern half  the costal part of latvia .So when the chance arrives to goand find out more he goes  to Riga and then on it what was Courland. Jean-Paul takes the chance to see what happened and what remains of this once special little nation .So we arrive and he is using a red Skoda to get round this country .We see how the duchy of Courland was quite a enlighten place with even its own two small overseas post one in Gambia the over in Tobago became a part of first russia and the germany and finally  part of Latvia till now their are few that even remember it all even call themselves Courlanders .We discover the little country the knights of the Livonia til 1500 then the duchy .We meet present day people who live there how varied there reactions are ,figures from the past like Eduard Von keyserling a writer that was maybe a link between Turgenev’s writing and the likes of Franz Kafka .We see Jean-Paul like a Holmes of the Baltic piece together the bits of this land then and now .

“we haven’t come to Courland for its gastronomy “, says Joelle

She could not have put it better .People’s relationship with food seems purely functional here,but that may only be an impression .We are what we eat ,popular wisdom decrees .Jean-Jacques Rousseau maintained that the English ,with their love of very rare roast beef ,could not be a perverted and violent people .What are the Courlanders ,then ? To judge by the restaurants we’re visited ,the cuisine is peasant based .Pork and potatoes reign supreme

the cuisine of Courland discussed .

Well this book is one of those books that could sit on the shelf next to my  Bruce Chatwin’s ,W g Sebald’s or last years favourite Edmund de Waal .It is one of those books where the narrative digresses here and there , in fact in this book they drift from the grand past of Courland to the grey post communist Latvia as we see Jean-Paul ,piece it all together in  piffy chapters .I found he had a dry humour and a very keen eye on the world around him picking small details up and expanding them out . Almost like a clever tie together of great blog post  written about this place but these are all written by Jean-Paul but each chapter seems like another piece of a huge jigsaw .So if you want to see what happens to the little country of europe maybe read this ,I was reminded of the film the Mouse that roared this little place had manage to go out to Africa and the Caribbean and set up shop .one for all lover of travel with history books I think any way ..

Have you read this book ?

Have you read the Yourcenar book ?

 

 

Brother Mendel’s perfect horse by Frank Westerman

Brother Mendel’s perfect horse by Frank Westerman

Dutch non fiction

Translator – Sam Garrett

Frank Westerman is Dutch writer and former Journalist ,he grew up in Assen in a dutch reform church family ,he then went to university eventually ending up as a journalist ,where in the early nineties he end up in former Yugoslavia ,this inspired his first book since then he has written six books most of which have won prizes and been on shortlist in native Holland .He is now a full time writer .

So to this book Brother Mendel’s perfect horse or its original ditch title translated is Animal ,animal above but English title links Mendel’s work on peas the early study of genetics that also influenced the Horse’s breeding  .The book is a wonderful insight into the beautiful Lipizzaner horses  ,I loved the way he’d first meet the horse on the edge of the town he lived was a horse a Lipizzaner but it turns out it he finds the horse whole blood line .For those of you not in the know Lippizzanner’s are large perfect white horse that due to there bloodstock are able to be trained to perform wonderful trick and precision riding,but also have in breed genetic problems  .I was aware of the horse and knew roughly where they came from but had always wondered why it was called the Spanish riding school but was in Austria .I found  this book answered any other questions I had ,but the horse are just a small part of the story here as Frank has managed to weave a tapestry of fact ,his own life and history .These beautiful horse have been the prize for a number of the most feared and hated men in twentieth century  history  with Stalin and Hitler both ordered people to get the horses at one time or another .Soon after Anschluss in world war two Hitler sent people to secure the Spanish riding school which is the home of the Lipizzaner ,Hitlers own idea closely matched the breeding of the original Lipizzaner ,he’d order breeding of perfect farm animal to match his perfect Aryans .The stories of this period leads Frank to  meet a number of people or family members that were involved with the horse and made sure they were kept safe ,this also leads to other strands later on in the book as the horses  move round the central area of europe Austria ,Yugoslavia ,Romania to name three .The later two are also touched on later in the book as the break up of Yugoslavia means the a group of the horses get caught up in the warring sides and become a pawn in the end of the war .So next time I see them on a news report or a travel show I ll remember how much they have been involved in the history of modern europe and are more than just pretty horses .

A door slid open and ,Illuminated in the resulting darkness was a white horse ,standing hesitantly as though posing for a picture .The animal stepped from the frame with a graceless gait ,led by a girl in riding boots with hair down to her buttocks .At twenty ,thirty paces from my hiding place they stopped .Face to face ,even lip to lip they stood there .like two youngsters kissing .

Frank describing his first meeting with a Lipizzaner .

 

This is a book that falls in with books like Hare with Amber eyes ,rings of Saturn and wildwood .The very best of narrative prose .He use the horse connection with men as a motif for the history of the twentieth century .I was also reminded of the booker shortlisted by Simon Mawer the glass room where the book had  a house as a motif  that had been closely touched with recent history .This is a book for that difficult to buy book person that you may have brought hare or snow goose for in other years  ,also lover of great prose ,the horsey person ,the history lover .In fact if this isn’t near top of the pile this Christmas I ll be shocked because it deserves to be .I read on the Dutch wiki page this is currently in production to be a 90 min film about the horses .So this is my second choice for the dutch lit month and very pleased to review a non fiction books as not enough non fiction gets translated .The book comes out next month in the uk  .

What narrative prose do you like ?

 

 

The Patagonian Hare by Claude Lanzmann

The Patagonian Hare by Claude Lanzmann

French Non-fiction biography

Translator – Frank Wynne

Making a history was not what I wanted to do .I wanted to construct something more powerful than that – Claude Lanzmann on Shoah

Where to start with Claude Lanzmann ,he is maybe one of the most interesting figures in France .He hid as a jew from the Nazis ,then joined the french resistance during second world war post war he joined Sartre as editor of the magazine Les temps Mordernes and also he made the film Shoah .That is Just the tip of the iceberg ,this guy has really lived a number of lives in one life time .

Anyway so we move on too  The Patagonian Hare is his autobiography ,to a Life that has touch every part of french history and Jewish history since the second world war .He begins talking about his family ,what his father imagines for him in the future  a postman but boy how different his life was ,how they had to escape and hid at first in the second world war in france ,then how he joined the resistance movement in france fighting the Nazis .He did this with the communist ,this maybe served him well later when he made Shoah behind the Iron curtain .The style of telling his personal story is very personal almost throwaway. This is an interesting life, but he tells it with out glamour or the seeming need for praise from you as a reader thus drawing you into his life I like his wartime experiences but  for me the most interesting part of the book is after the war when he joins Sartre at les temps Modernes the lit magazine that shaped Sartre’s view of lit in france and maybe lead french lit , Lanzmann edited from the early days and still does  . The look inside the magazine his involvement  with the founder and his Girlfriend  and lover Simone de Beauvoir ,the way the opposed the Algerian war in the 1960 joining the anti-war movement and the fallout from this decision also how they viewed various figure in french lit in the fifties and sixties most of which I knew very little about (this is a dream for googling and learning about french lit ).

It is here that the adventure of Shoah begins :my friend Alouph Hareven ,director-general of the Isareli ministry of foerign affairs invited me in and spoke to me with gravity and a solemneity I had never experienced from him .Having congratulated me on Pourquoi Isarel ,this is in substance what he said to me “there is no film about the shoah ,no film that takes what happened in all its magnitude ,no film that shows it from our point of view ,the viewpoint of the Jews .

How he decided to make the film Shoah !!

Then you come to  the last third of the book as thou the first two-thirds were not enough of a life lived  is mainly dealing with his epic film Shoah for those of you who haven’t seen it you should Shoah is the film that examine the holocaust and is a bit like the world at war as it is mainly eyewitness testament, as at  the time when Lanzmann started making the film a lot of people involve with the holocaust where still alive to give their stories over to him for posterity .He spent years filming people getting them to open up and visiting the sites across Europe involved (yet again for the third book some figures from Treblinka are mentioned ) also getting Nazis to admit what  really happened in the camps . I personally would put any one that ever denies holocaust in a chair for nine hours to watch this and then still denied  what happened during the second world war  .I loved his descriptions of making the film this is where you felt this guy’s passion flow of the page this was more than a project it became a mission to him to get across what had really happened . Then when it was made we saw how people reacted and how he tried to get it to as wide as audience as possible .Also we get a chunk of the writers own insight into his own sex life  through out the book ,you have a rare book indeed .

I find it hard to fault this book I m not a big non fiction reader ,but when I see a book I d like to read ,like this I know I love it even before I open the cover . I  even asked  for a copy of this from the publisher, after its translator Frank suggested I read it ,needless to say frank has made the book seem as thou it was written in english the actual writing by Lanzmann involved him dictating too two women Juliette Simont a Sartrianne and Lanzmann own secretary Sarah Strelinski a writer in her own right  they manage to pull together his memories of a life live into a book that has been described rightly so as a master piece by Le monde, Der Spiegel and FAZ .  Lanzmann is one of those rare people who has made a difference  and this book shows a man  close up from the french left-wing and literary world .

Have you seen Shoah ?

Have you heard of him before ?

 

Treblinka A Survivor’s memory by Chil Rajchman

Just read this book !!!! 

Treblinka A survivor’s memory by Chil Rajchman

The hell of Treblinka by Vasily Grossman

Holocaust memoir

Translators (Rajchman ) Solon Beinfeld ,(Grossman) Robert Chandler

Chil Rajchman Was a twenty eight year old Pole when he enter the Death camp of Treblinka .He was on of the few survivors as Treblinka had a reputation as the most evil of the death camps .The camp killed an estimate 850,000 people during the war .Chil was among a group who manage to cause an uprising in the camp and escape in august 1943 he wrote his memories of the camp at that time   on scraps of paper .He later settled in Uruguay worked this into the book Treblinka which he want published after he died to remind people of what had happened to him during the war

There was a difference in appearance of the dead from the small and from the large gas chamber .In the small chambers death was easier and quicker .The faces looked as if the people had fallen asleep , their eyes closed .Only mouths of some of the gassed victims were distorted ,with bloody foam visible on their lips .The bodies were covered in sweat .before dying people had urinated and defecated .

to find out the horrors of the large gas chamber read the book .

When this book arrived I was excited as I had want to get the hard back when it came out ,Rajchman’s account as one of the few survivors of the horrific Treblinka is an important document of Jewish history and Holocaust literature .Even 70 years after the events in this book took place we could all do with a remind of the horrors of mankind .I read the book in a day as I was gripped but the sheer bluntness of Rajchman memories ,he didn’t sugar coat a word this is like uncut diamond full of wonder and natrual beauty and you the reader have to cut the diamond to carry round and pass on to other readers and any one that mentions the war or says it wasn’t so bad it was that and more .I did just want put a short review up here and that would be

Just read it please

I m still not sure that is the best thing to have said as I as a blogger have to try to get you to pick this book .All I can say is the statement just read it some stories need to be read .This will make you feel like crying it did me .I choose today to put up my review as we see the horror of right-wing extremism raises it ugly head in the trail of the mass murderer in Norway Anders Brevik ,when today I heard him try to justify his actions it made me angry and I decide to do this review today .Chil entered Treblinka with his family the last time he saw them and because he was lucky or able to do jobs that no one else could do was able to survive and pass on this testament to future generations.Many hundreds of thousands couldn’t .

The second part of the book is Vasily Grossman’s account for the russian papers when he was the first journalist to reach Treblinka after the camp was liberated .He wrote the history of the camp an exact description of what he saw when he enter the lay out .These lines struck me

The ashes and crushed cinders swish softly .We enter the camp .We tread the earth of Treblinka .The Lupin pods spilt open at the least touch they split with a faint ping and millions of tiny peas scatter over the earth .The sounds of the falling peas and the bursting pods come together to form a single soft sad melody it is as a funeral knell

This sums up how fragile human life is just like those lupin seeds

I can’t say any more I d love to se reviews of this every where as it is such a touching memoir and one to pass on  to all .I wait to review this to a day when it would mean something and today seems like that day to me .

Londoners by craig Taylor

I won this just before Christmas on twitter  and was intrigued by it and london in general as a northern and proud of it , who has only visited London on half a dozen occasions I wanted to see if this book by Craig Taylor, who is also  the editor of seven dials magazine would give me an insight into what it is to be a Londoner and is there any peace in the madness as it seems to the outsider .Craig spent over seven years interviewing people from all walks of life on what effect London has had on them and what they do every day  .The book is loosely organised in sections following an arc of arriving in london too what happens every day the people how entertain, feed and look after us whilst there and ultimately the people who see us into then next life .these range from pilot that bookends the book arriving at the airport and leaving as he puts it moving away from all that life in the city .

But london has cross winds .Nothing’s stable .Nothing’s set it can be tough work too. if it is rough you might duck into grey cloud pilot

Kevin Pover on landing in london but this nugget seems to sum up London a bit as well .

I loved Taylor’s style of interviewing letting people chat and obviously editing it into little nuggets and gems and getting rid of waffle whilst still keeping the feel of every person via the grammar and use of language .I felt like I spent seven years on a tube train every day talking to a different person or in a pub for seven years .Craig has done for modern London what the mass observation project did in the second world war ,captured it like a fly in amber  for all time .Some of my favourite people in the book where the Pakistan currency guy that had marfan syndrome just because he had that as a tall thin man this syndrome was often mentioned to me as something I may have due to my build and shape , till my mum took me for tests and I hadn’t it but his story remind me of that time .

I also has some problems with my health .Some eye problems .I had retinal detachment -I have a genetic reason for that ,Marfan Syndrome ,which makes me tall and causes eye problems . karman Sheikh currency trader talks about his health problems a syndrome I was suspected of having but didn’t .

The funeral director that show the cosmopolitan nature of London has led to him working with people in Poland and Nigeria on a regular basis even opening a branch in Nigeria as he was shocked at the facilities .

I went into one mortuary and there were bodies lying on the floor at various stages of decomposition when they’d not kept up the payments .

The ambulance man talking of delivering babies here there and every where also the fact he delivered babies of all races and every one is the same when it come to child-birth .this book is the best non fiction book I ve read all year and one everyone should read I think .

Steig Larsson my friend by Kurdo Baksi

Steig larsson my friend by Kurdo Baksi

Swedish Non fiction

Translated by Laurie Thompson

Steig Larsson is without a doubt the biggest success in translated fiction of recent times ,he also lead to the great number of Nordic crime books we see on our book shop shelves ,unfortunately he died before the huge success of the books he wrote hit home  ,so this book by a colleague and good friend of the man is a great insight into him as a person and writer .Kurdo Baksi a Kurd writer journalist and magazine owner , that has lived in Sweden since the 80’s like Stieg he is a figure in the anti fascist movement in Sweden and runs a magazine about anti fascism .he first meet Stieg in 1992 as their paths crossed with stieg,s non fiction books on the extreme right in Sweden and the shared beliefs in this movement grew into a great friendship .They both ran magazines Stieg Larsson Expo and Kurdo Baksi Svartitt .We let into the world of Swedish journalism where these two writers Stieg in particular walk a line of danger where because they have highlighted the extreme right with exposes of these movements ,they have to watch what they do ,then there is also the hate mail he got from the right-wing nutters .What you get is Stieg dedication to democracy   and freedom of speech this lead to long hours and as Kurdo put it a man fueled by cigarettes and coffee in equal measures .The two men are drawn closer when Stieg magazine runs into trouble so rather than let it go out of print he and Kurdo join together and publish the two magazines as one as Kurdo is a better business man than Stieg  .THE other thread of Stieg life that kurdo lets us  into is the personnel man Stieg lived with his partner Eva whom kurdo knows well and helps at times when she is worried about Stieg  had traveled a lot in his youth as a sort of backpacker spend time in africa this had a lasting effect on him .

On 30 november 1998 ,T.T . issued a newsflash .The anti racist journal Expo had been resurrected ,thanks to a merger with the swedish magazine svartvitt .

I was quoted ;”expo had been outstandingly good at investigating racism .but they never grasped how to make money .That is where I can help them ”

The magazine combine their talents .

So you can say I liked this book in fact I loved it read it in an evening as I want to learn  more a\nd more about Stieg I enjoyed the millenium trilogy when I read it and knew a bits about Stieg’s life, but this book fleshed out the scant facts I had . He comes across as a man who work hard in fact a real workaholic that slept very little  and cared for his fellow-man ,the millenium trilogy is just part of his story his activism was the bigger picture and that in turn is shown in the books of the millenium trilogy which the Kurdo appears in as a character .This bio is a loving tribute from someone who knew Stieg and admired him also due to working everyday with him for later part of Stieg life knew him as he worked on the books that made his name .

Have you read this or Stieg’s trilogy ?

U&I by Nicholson baker

U&I BY Nicholson Baker

Literay non- fiction

Granta books

Nicholson Baker is an american writer ,I reviewed Vox a few weeks ago as part of the new Granta reissue series and now bring another from the four reissued books with their lovely Village green designed covers .

So U&I what is it about ,well it is about John Updike (a point to note here for the readers is I share a birthday with mr Updike so have a huge soft spot for him ) it is about John Updike books yes and no ,is it about John Updike the man well yes and no ,this book is hard to pin down to a non fiction category ,the book starts with Baker deciding to write a piece for the Atlantic magazine about Updike but as he starts on this it obviously grows into this book .Baker takes us on a journey through his mind and how his mind has absorbed John Updike’s works and his numerous interviews he has read over the years .As we go along this path we dart here and there into Bakers wider reading habits and how he interacts with books and how he has viewed Updike’s criticism in the past ,Updike was a great critic in his day and some one who you feel Baker admired .Now your asking did they know each other well they meet once at a Harvard lampoon party where he got Updike to sign a copy of rabbit is rich ,he was amazed to find out that Updike had read one of his short stories .

AT the offices of the Harvard lampoon ,in november 1984 ,I sprang out in front of him near a plate of ham cutting as he was hurrying leave the post Harvard-Yale game party .

Baker braving first meeting

Hi I’m Nick Baker

I’m John Updike

I know

and they chat briefly

SO what did I make of this book ,I loved it ,I like Bakers loose stream of consciousness style in the book ,it feels like you’re in his head holding a conversation with him ,this is definitely a bibliophile’s book as it is so full of book love ,he mentions so many books and why he likes them I feel I got a hold new insight into some books I ve missed by his slight mentions of them ,as for Updike and I ,the I in this case being me Stu the writer of the blog ,well I ve read four of his book like most people three of them are the rabbit books ,which I feel are the best insight into the  post war american experience the other is the eastwick book .I ve a few of his other books on my shelves am I in a rush to read not really I have a soft spot as mention but I also have another 40 plus years hopefully in front of me to get to them so like Baker who has also not read Updike’s Cannon ,I m in no rush to tick him off my read list as I want to experience Updike for years to come and also I feel the same about Baker so the review of the other two reissues will be a some point in the future .

Have you read this book ?

Have you read Updike ?

Beauty and the Inferno by Roberto Saviano

Source – review copy

Translator – Oonagh Stransky

Now when I heard this was coming out I was excited I read Gomorrah his previous book about the Mafia ,and heard he had to go into permanent hiding due to the publication of that book in 2006  where he has 24 hour protection from the Italian government , he grew up in Naples he is a journalist and has written for a number of paper round the world like La repubblica and l’expresso .this collection of essays mostly come after he had to go into hiding .

Where to start with this collection ,it is hard I don’t want tell you every one so will choose some and tell you bits about them ,thus leaving gems for you to discover ,because this is one of these books you should run and buy even if it is just because Roberto Saviano is one of the bravest people I ve come across writing his previous book he knew would lead to trouble so in doing that he lost his liberty .the book is divided into five sections with essays grouped round themes ,the first is called south and are stories about the south of italy .The one I will mention is the last in this section all about the aftermath of the earthquake that hit L Aquilla in 2009 ,it shows how poor building standards caused more death than necessary ,this was less well reported in UK but 300 plus people died as Saviano says when he quotes Franco Armino the Italian poet

Twenty five years after the earthquake there will not be much left of the dead .And even less of the living .

The next collection of essays are about Men ,he meets a wonderful collection of men ,the brittle bone suffering Jazz musician Michel Petrucciani’s where Saviano describes the life of this talented musician who overcame a very bad condition to bring music to people .Another story in this section that really grabbed me is the Messi essay all about the young Lionel Messi and how this wonderfully gifted footballer ended up at Barcelona as they saw him as a very young boy but with a growth problem ,so they funded treatment ,this was news to me and to a non football fan is a touching tale of a boys dreams coming true .

The treatment ,however ,can split you in two Nausea was the main problem .You vomit up your soul .Your facial hair does not grow .You feel your muscles popping out ,your bones creaking and groaning .Everything gets bigger and longer in months rather than years .I couldn’t let myself experience the pain says Messi

Then we have two short sections one on business,one was about rubbish business in italy and the problems that have been caused by this being corruptly  run .The next section is called war he talks about one of my favourite non fiction books Michael Herr’s dispatches a book that was used partly in two films apocalypse now and Full metal jacket ,I love that he likes this book as well Herr like Saviano is a writer that isn’t afraid of the truth and telling it like he did in dispatches (this lead to me deciding to reread dispatches and tie it in with Bao Ninh the sorrow of war shortly ).The final section is called north and is about mainly the nobel prize this includes Saviano meeting Salman Rushdie this is worth a read if you don’t read anything else in the book to see two men that have had to live in hiding because of what they wrote is touching .

Well as you may tell this is another non fiction book that has grabbed my heart ,Saviano is a writer that can draw the reader in from the first word ,his clear descriptions and obvious knowledge of the subjects he writes about is clear .This does what all good essays should do, that’s leave you wanting to know more about the subject of the essay ,but also with the feeling you know enough to talk about the subject to the lay man .Oonagh Stransky did a fine job on the translation.The book is published by Maclehose press 

What are your favourite works of Non fiction ?

The Most Beautiful walk in the world by John Baxter

Source – Review copy

John Baxter is an Ex-pat australian writer that has lived in Paris for a number of years ,he is also well-known for writing Film biographies of people such as Steven  Spielberg and George Lucas to name two .He currently gives guided Literary tours of Paris and has done so for a number of years ,this book is a collection of thoughts memories and information he has gathered in doing this for the past few years .He has also written two earlier books on Paris .

Now the books the most beautiful walk in the world is set up in short chapters each a little tale about the city and the people who have lived there .One main area’s John touches on is the 20’s the swinging paris of Hemingway , Fitzgerald ,Joyce and Gertrude Stein .He evokes the Spirit of these writers books as he describes ,Joyce’s Ulysses being published by Sylvia Beach the owner and publisher that ran Shakespeare and company in the 20’s ,Now that great shop keeps cropping up ,you sense John’s love for it history and how much it has touched writing  and writers in the past .Elsewhere we get the darker side of paris ,opium dens ,Underground attractions that were scary and popular in late 1800’s .He also tells of his and his families connection to the city christmas there ,meeting people and just the everyday ebb and flow he experiences .Another thread of chapters is of course food and cafes ,from how important the right tin of sardines can be to a french man to the great cafes of the twenties and how they have faired through to the present day .

Connetable produces a “vintage” sardine that retails for $14 a can.Buyers are advised to “put down” these like wine for a few years ,turning them occasionally to spread the flavour .

“what really threw me “,tim said later “was the fact you didn’t bat an eyelash .I thought it was some sort of practical Joke.”

He should have realized that the french ,serious at the best of times ,become positively reverent when it comes to food .

John buying sardines ,this made me laugh at how serious the french can be !!

I m so please I picked this from the e-mail I get from time to time from Harper perennial .It was one of the best travel books I ve ever read John’s love for paris just drips of the pages and like a good Bordeaux ,slowly gets you drunk with the city your self ,he breathes life into the figures you know that lived there ,but he makes the spirits still seem part of the fabric of Paris today .The short chapter and constant flow of little nuggets of info make you want to continue turning the pages ,he flies from places to places keeping the reader interested from page one to the end .I wanted to jump on the next flight with My darling wife and spend a week reliving this book Visiting the Various sights and sounds he described ,trying sardines at $14 dollars ,having a coffee in a famous cafe ,seeing Gertrude Stein favourite garden  .I ve had a brief visit to Paris a number of years ago and this has made me want to return more than ever to breathe up more of this wonderful city  ,but also pick up his two earlier books also about Paris .John has a website ,you can e-mail him to maybe try a walk in Paris with him ,if I do get to go there I may well do that and bring this book along !!!

What cities do you love ?

Have you been to Paris what did you enjoy ?

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