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Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

Paris to the Moon (2000)

by Adam Gopnik

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2,056243,242 ()74
  1. 10
    A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (carlym)
  2. 10
    The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz (rakerman)
    rakerman: The Sweet Life and Paris to the Moon are similar perspectives on living in Paris. Sweet Life is a light, humourous take on the challenges of moving a new city, as seen mostly through food and food-related activities. It has a bit more of a travel-guide tone. Paris to the Moon tries to explore more in detail the peculiarities of Paris from an outsider's viewpoint, with wry commentary. It also has a bit of a wistful tone as many of the tales are of the author's son exploring the city. Both are very good starting points to understanding the French, giving the positives but also the many difficulties of adapting from American to Parisian culture.… (more)
  3. 00
    1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke (John_Vaughan)
  4. 00
    Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light by David Downie (rakerman)
    rakerman: Paris to the Moon is a much more wistful, intimate look at Paris, but both books are from the perspective of someone who has spent years living in Paris. In the book Paris, Paris the approach is to give a sense of the city through the people, places and phenomena that have shaped it, as filtered through the experiences of the author. In Paris to the Moon it's much more about getting a sense of what it is like to live in the city as an outsider.… (more)
  5. 00
    Into a Paris Quartier by Diane Johnson (carlym)

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I enjoy Gopnik's writing in The New Yorker and appreciate his views and observations. Unfortunately, it turns out that I don't really care all that much about quiet, thoughtful essays on life in Paris. Many people do. I don't. This is something I learned.
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
I enjoyed these essays by a New Yorker living and bringing up a young son in Paris.Living in a foreign city allows more insight into the nature of the local culture than travel allows and Adam Gopnik is a thoughtful and insightful writer. ( )
  cscott | May 11, 2013 |
Not so sold on this at the beginning, but really liked it by the end, especially the chapter/article on the World Cup. ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Articulate reflective compilation of articles written over five years from Pairs for the New Yorker Magazine. Gopnik brings an underlying warmth and affection for Parians, and adds a lovely self-awareness, whic allows him to discourse knowledgeably on the differences between life in New York and Paris. This was not a book to be gulped down in one sitting, but rather enjoyed as if each chapter (article) were a different course, or even meal. Enjoyed the discussion of couture fashion shows, soccer, a bureaucrat on trial for war crimes, and efforts to 'save' a favorite restaurant. 'The Rookie' was a personal favorite. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Mar 18, 2012 |
There are travel memoirs that become classics. While they take place at a particular time, they either manage to grasp what is eternal about a place or they perfectly capture a lost version of the place they're writing about. Down and Out in Paris and London captures the eternal of being poor in a great place, I think, and A Moveable Feast is a snapshot of a great time that is gone and still mourned.

Adam Gopnik's account of a American family living in Paris for five years falls into a second category; a book that is a snapshot of a time and a place, but one that is rapidly fading and which will be forgotten in a few more years. It's a very specific memoir, full of a young father's infatuation with his son, and it's the story of a specific family (well-to-do New Yorkers writing for The New Yorker) in a specific place (Paris, circa 1995).

Which is not to say that this is not a highly readable book. It is. But I suspect that my enjoyment of it is based on the similarities of our experiences. I lived in Paris for a year and we started our family in a European country and watched our children being not altogether American. So much of what I liked about it were the parts where our experiences overlapped. Gopnik interviewed Bernard-Henri Levy; I had a crush on Levy when I lived in Paris (I was taken with the idea that a philosopher could be a sex-symbol). Gopnik's wife had their second child in Paris; I had my two children in Munich, and found Gopnik's experience to be similar to my own. My time in Paris occurred just a few years before Gopnik's, so that I recognized his version of Paris more readily than I do Paris of today.

There are pieces of this book that are very, very good. The chapter on the trial and surrounding media storm of a French public official charged with war crimes was excellent and a brief segment on the French interviewee's astonishment over being called by fact-checkers was funny and thought-provoking.

There is simply a lot of this book that is specific to Gopnik's own experiences and which doesn't expand to universality. His search for an American-style place to work out, for example, or the long story of his son's first crush at age five. And while the reader gets an painstaking account of the bedtime story Gopnik told his son, complete with his son's trenchant commentary, there is almost nothing about his wife or how the move affected their relationship.

I loved this book, but I think that I loved it because of the memories it brought back, more than for the writing itself. ( )
3 vote RidgewayGirl | May 18, 2011 |
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"I dare say, moreover," she pursued with an interested gravity, "that I do, that we all do here, run too much to mere eye.  But how can it be helped? We're all looking at each other - and in the light of Paris one sees what things resemble. That's what the light of Paris seems always to show. It's the fault of the light of Paris - dear old light!" 
"Dear Old Paris!" little Bilham echoed. 
"Everything, everyone shows," Miss Barrace went on. 
"but for what they really are?" Strether asked. 
"Oh, I like your Boston 'reallys'! But sometimes - yes." 
-- The ambassadors
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Not long after we moved to Paris, in the fall of 1995, my wife, Martha, and I saw, in the window of a shop on the rue Saint-Sulpice a nineteenth-century engraving, done in the manner, though I'm now inclined to think not from the hand, of Daumier.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375758232, Paperback)

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 cafés, 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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York for the urbane glamour of Paris. His five year sojourn traces a sentimental re-education in what it means to be an American in Paris.

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