Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me DownBook - 2012
A self-described Francophile from when he was little, Rosecrans Baldwin always dreamed of living in Paris--drinking le café, eating les croissants, walking in les jardins--so when an opportunity presented itself to work for an advertising agency in Paris, he couldn't turn it down. Despite the fact that he had no experience in advertising. And despite the fact that he barely spoke French. After an unimaginable amount of red tape and bureaucracy, Rosecrans and his wife packed up their Brooklyn apartment and left the Big Apple for the City of Light. But when they arrived, things were not eactly what Rosecrans remembered from a family vacation when he was nine years old.
Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down is a nimble comic account of observing the French capital from the inside out. It is an exploration of the Paris of Sarkozy, text-message romances, smoking bans, and a McDonald's beneath the Louvre--the story of an American who arrives loving Paris all out of proportion, but finds life there to be completely unlike what he expected. Over eighteen months, Rosecrans must rely on his dogged American optimism to get him through some very unromantic situations--at work (writing booklets on howto breast-feed, raise, and nurture children), at home (trying to finish writing his first novel in an apartment surrounded on all sides by construction workers), and at every confusing French dinner party in between. An offbeat update to the expat canon, Paris, I Love You is a book about a young man finding his preconceptions replaced by the oddities of a vigorous, nervy city--which is just what he needs to fall in love with Paris for the second time.
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Flew through this book. It definitely held my attention. Trying to figure out why that was. Baldwin's writing was occasionally inept, and some of his descriptions and metaphors, incomprehensible or just plain weird. Part of my fascination was undoubtedly Paris itself and the familiarity of places and experiences. His characters are curious and compelling, and there are worthwhile insights into French culture here. The problem may well be the age gap between the writer and myself. There's a self-absorbed, spacy quality to the narrative that can be off-putting and lots of references to trends in fashion, food, music, activities that eluded me completely.
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