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Our Paris: Sketches from Memory (1994)
by Edmund White
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A surprisingly bright, cheerful mood for a collaborative work from a couple with the shadow of AIDS hanging over them. All that's missing to turn it into a 50s musical is the Gershwin soundtrack. Sorel's picures are occasionally hidden by White's blizzard of dropping names, but it's all in good fun. ( )
Edmund White, member of the Violet Quill, author of A Boy's Own Story, and architect and illustrator Hubert Sorin, here collaborate to share stories of their Paris.
A delightful book about White and Sorin's life in Paris, with an inevitable undercurrent of sadness, because Sorin is dying. Yet his inability to practice his work as an architect led him to develop the "unique, exuberant drawing style" that illustrates this book.
Here you will meet all sorts of interesting people. The concierge, Madame Denise, and the coiffeuse who tries out all the latest hairstyles on her. Father Pierre Riches, the "kind and elegant" Catholic priest whose hair had been stroked by Cavafy and whose photograph had been taken by Mapplethorpe. Billy Boy, the jewelry designer with 16,000 Barbies (who, tiring of them, invents a doll called Mdvany, a trendy Parisienne who "will not have unlined skirts like certain dolls we could name . . .". Pierre Guyotat, who wrote in a "strange subvocal language of his own devising, one that omitted vowels among other unnecessary luxuries."
And the places in Paris! How nice to live above a bookstore, especially one that revels in the splendidly punny name, Mona Lisait. To write at the Café Beaubourg, where the waiters will be equally attentive to you and your dog, and where the "tabletops were all painted by celebrated French artists but not signed lest they be stolen." To wander the Marais with its delicatessens and seventeenth-century townhouses, its "Kiki Boys" and dogwalkers.
If you can't go to Paris (and even if you can), you can read this book.
What happens when one of our most celebrated writers combines talents with a French artist and architect to capture life in their Parisian neighborhood? The result is a lighthearted, gently satiric portrait of the heart of Paris -- including the Marais, Les Halles, the two islands in the Seine, and the Ch#65533;telet -- and the people who call it home. It is an enchantingly varied world, populated not only by dazzling literati and ultrachic couturiers and art dealers but also by poetic shopkeepers, grandmotherly prostitutes, and, ever underfoot, an irrepressible basset hound named Fred. The foibles and eccentricities of these sometimes outrageous, always memorable individuals are brought to life with unfailing wit and affection. Below the surface of the sparkling humor in Our Paris, there is a tragic undercurrent. While Hubert Sorin was completing this work, he was nearing the end of his struggle with AIDS. The book is a tribute to the loving spirit with which the authors banished somberness and celebrated the pleasures of their life together.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)944.361 — History and Geography Europe France and region Champagne; Ile de France; Lorraine Île-de-France Paris
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