Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Review: Me Myself and Paris

Me, Myself and Paris: One Toe Under the Eiffel Tower, The Other In the Grocery Store
Author: Ruth Yunker
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Publish Date: July 16, 2010
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: The author
Book Blurb: Me, Myself & Paris is author Ruth Yunker's droll pastiche of her days, free and unaccompanied, in Paris. Three years in a row she rents an apartment, stays for six weeks, and takes on Paris, half resident, half visitor. She is a short attention span tourist, a wide-eyed voyeur, and irreverence saves the day when the chips are down. Her stories are about bonhomie and savoir-faire, American style, while treading the hallowed and slippery cobblestones of Paris.

It's about every day errands, and sorties into dutiful sightseeing. It's about run-ins with grocery store cashiers and metro ticket agents. It's about desperately trying to speak French. It's about attempting to emulate the chic, windblown Parisian woman wearing no lipstick, while Ruth wouldn't be caught bare lipped outside the boudoir.

She conquers the metro, no mean feat for a Californian glued to a car. She hears ghosts in cathedrals, and smells bread toasting every morning across the courtyard. She learns to make correct change without her reading glasses. Comes to understand that direct eye contact is a flagrant disregard of manners, even when she most needs a hug.

Me, Myself & Paris is what Paris looks like, feels like, smells like, tastes like, to an American woman, free and unfettered, sense of humor and bonhomie alive and well, alone and loving it, in the most beautiful and temperamental city in the world.

Review: I received this book for review awhile back...a long while back and always seemed to keep putting it off, until I read French Toast. I was a bit disgusted with that one and wanted to try another viewpoint. I'm glad I did.

Ruth sums up Paris much the same way as Harriet Welty Rochefort did, but more from a tourist standpoint. After all, she only spent 6 weeks there for several years, whereas Harriet was a transplaneted American in Paris.

Ruth however makes reading about the cultures more fun. She tells us her experiences through little vignettes that will keep you smiling the whole way through the book. I laughed at her experiences using the drier in her apartment, while feeling terribly sorry for her.

I'm not sure I connected with her through the story. It is often difficult to emphasize with someone that obviously has so much more than you do. I would have to sell my soul to Satan to make a trip to Paris just once for a week, let alone 6.

Oh and the one thing I did take away from reading about Paris and Parisians? I never want to travel there! Ruth and Harriet both paint the people of Paris and France really as a bit cold and unfriendly. However beautiful the country is, the description I received of the people that lived there really put me off.

Rating: 4 flowers


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