Place Settings #21: December 8, 2013


Eat: A little mixed plate of dolmas, Manchego, Humboldt Fog, and some crackers.

Drink: It was quite cold and cloudy today in New York (and now it’s snowing!), so I brewed a pot of Harney & Sons’ Tokyo tea.

Read: I just started reading Enrique Vila-Matas’ Never Any End to ParisThe novel is written in the form of a lecture given by the narrator, a loosely fictionalized version of Vila-Matas, and describes the two years he spent living in Paris. I’m only a few pages in, but so far I’m really enjoying it. It’s kind of like a sequel to Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast (and in fact takes its title from a line in that book): the narrator is a writer who lives in Marguerite Duras’ garret and encounters all kinds of intellectual characters along the way (according to the back of the book: Roland Barthes, Georges Perec, Sergio Pitol, Samuel Beckett, and Juan Marsé).

I’ve been turning to fiction as much as I have to guidebooks since deciding to move to Paris. I have a long list of various things I want to see and places I want to eat, but my decision to move there wasn’t based on the tourist opportunities in Paris, as great as they are. I’m going because I hope that a change in physical location will result in a mental change as well. A Moveable Feast and Never Any End to Paris are equal parts travel guides and literary self-help books to me.

What are you favorite works of fiction about Paris?

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  1. I enjoyed Down and Out in London and Paris by G. Orwell and Sylvia Beech and The Lost Generation by N.R. Fitch. They are both more historic portraits than present day ones. Three on my to read list are: Sentimental Education by Flaubert; Maigret by Simenon; and Foreign Bodies by C. Ozick.

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