I found this great little book at a souvenir/antique/second-hand/gift/general store this
summer up in the Adirondacks on Lake George. It was 25 cents.
Adam Gopnik and his wife left New York for Paris, with an infant, and stayed
for five years. They had decided that it was the perfect time to live in Paris–
before the hectic days of kindergarten and elementary school days began.
But don’t think this is a book about raising children. It isn’t. It’s about
living in Paris—not for two weeks, or a summer or a semester. But living
in Paris in real time—-real days, nights, weather, food, shopping, for five years
from 1995 to 2000—the millenium. Remember the millenium?
The picture in the beginning of the book is worth a mint to me. And maybe tonight with our own full moon on a cold November night, the picture rings even truer for dreamland.
Soon after the Gopniks arrived in Paris, they saw an unsigned nineteenth-century engraving in a shop window titled “A Railroad from Paris to the Moon”. He describes this engraving in the very first pages—-and I was hooked.
The book is divided into essay-like chapters—for that’s what they were—essays
written to be sent back to the The New Yorker, Gopnik’s employer. They aren’t necessarily dependent on one another.
The short essays make it easy to dip in and out of the book in a leisurely fashion–in fact, you won’t whiz right through it because Mr. Gopnik is a thoughtful writer, with plenty
of asides and dependent clauses, making you wonder if you will ever come to the end of his sentences (imagine), but you are rewarded for taking a breath and relaxing and letting it all play out. He’s a good writer.
And, in fact, the style of writing makes it perhaps the perfect “un livre à mon chevet” or book on my nightstand. There are worse things than reading a few lines about Paris before closing one’s eyes for the night.