Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Town Like Paris

Book Look

Debbie Balzotti

“A Town Like Paris”

Before I wrote my review, I authenticated the impressions of this author with my only native French acquaintance, Elodie, and she assured me that there was truth amidst the humor. We had fun laughing at ourselves as we recognized the influence of our own native foreign culture on our attitudes and actions. “A Town Like Paris” is not for everyone but I hope Alyssa enjoys it as part of her pre-Paris trip birthday package. I did ask Elodie for book suggestions to help understand French culture but her books are in French (oddly enough) which won’t do me much good since my high school French has long since evaporated.
Ah, Paris, Ah, L’Amour… the author Bryce Corbett, an ex-pat from Australia by way of England takes a job in the City of Lights. This begins his love affair with Paris and many, many nights of drinking Bordeaux in his neighborhood cafes. He may have written some of this book while still intoxicated because sometimes you feel like you are listening to a very funny but very intoxicated guy.
Corbett samples everything this city has to offer, appearing on a French game show, stalking celebs at Cannes, and of course utter failure in the wooing of French women. Each chapter is similar to a journal entry and begins by addressing an observation about his new hometown and its bewildering inhabitants.
Chapter 17 is entitled: Desperately Seeking Plumbing. “Parisian plumbers, like the majority of people in France’s so-called service industry, are a recalcitrant mob. The rendezvous was set for ten days hence. I was gobsmacked. How could anyone be expected to live in an apartment, in the middle of a Parisian winter, with neither heat nor hot water? But neither the plumber nor my landlady could comprehend the urgency of my situation. Apparently it was perfectly acceptable for a tenant to go for two weeks without heat or hot water. And no, of course there was no question of a reduction in rent. The hot-water heater had broken down because of misuse. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that it hadn’t been replaced or serviced since Napoleon got his comeuppance at Waterloo.”
This is an amusing travel journal by an author who hopefully has sobered up enough this year to grow up and get a real job in Paris. You can’t help but laugh at some of his adventures and shake your head over many of his idiotic mistakes as an Aussie clearly out of his element but determined to enjoy it. Allez, allez Champs Elysees Alyssa!

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