Oct 12, 2012

Back to the Continent!

I'm moving to Paris!

H has accepted a job in the City, and while he's setting us up T and I will join my family in Paris till mid-2013. Thanks to the Eurostar, we'll get to see each other on weekends, at least... We're starting T at a local preschool (we've limited it down to two international schools - though not the American school due to their shocking fee scheme) and I will be getting my French from "conversational" back to "fluent" - the rest is TBC.

First, some books I checked out of the library in preparation for the move:

The Invention of Paris, Eric Hazan, translated by David Fernbach

I'm having a bit of a tough time getting into this - the author's approach to his subject matter strongly reminded me of why it was so hard to stick out Comparative Literature. The first chapter is called "Psychogeography of the Boundary," and it starts off with a Walter Benjamin quote, from his Arcades Project. Now Benjamin's life is truly a thing of sadness - he killed himself in 1940 at the Franco-Spanish border, part of a group of Jewish refugees who were told they would all be returned to France (though if I recall the story correctly, the rest of the group was then allowed to pass out of sympathy). But Arcades, while it had some points that made me think "that's an interesting way of looking at it," also contained a whole load of waffle - a few original ideas obfuscated by a whole lot of less interesting material, and everything skewed so that it supports the author's thesis (and that, to me, is literary theory in a nutshell).

Left Bank, Kate Muir

I'm not sure how to categorize this book (I'm about a third through). It mostly reads like a more ambitious version of the Gossip Girl series, with some strong aspirational elements (the protagonist family consists of a rich leftist intellectual married to an actress) while at the same time underlining that even thse who seem to have it all...don't.


But that's just the starting point - more musings on moving to, and living in, Paris will follow.


PS - A few months ago, I read this book - it's basically about the goings-on at an international school in Paris, including a student-teacher affair.

You Deserve Nothing, Alexander Maksik

I actually thought it was a well-constructed (if not especially original) story with verisimilar characters. Background research revealed that it's pretty much a roman a clef, and in the grossest sense: the author had an affair with one of his students when he taught at the American School in Paris (see this article on Jezebel for an overview).

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