Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Salon: Une Petite Visite à Paris




I can't stay away.

I couldn't manage to get myself to Paris this year like I did last year. Not par avion, anyway.

I did squeeze in a quick trip to Paris this week via my favorite mode of transportation, le livre, the book.

I read David McCullough's The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris yesterday and then immediately picked up the fabulous children's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret today.

In The Greater Journey, McCullough relates the stories of Americans who benefited by spending time in Paris. You probably know about Ernest Hemingway and M.F.K. Fischer and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Benjamin Franklin, but do you know the stories of étrangers John Singer Sargeant and Mary Cassatt and Henry Longfellow and Robert Louis Stevenson and James Fenimore Cooper and Augustus Saint-Gaudens? McCullough tells tales of the American writers, artists, doctors, and others qui est venu à Paris between 1830 and 1900, revealing how ideas were shared and enlarged and improved by spending time in this amazing city. It was eerie and phénoménal, reading about Americans who walked, a hundred and fifty years ago, the same streets I did last summer, who stood where I stood, in Jardin du Luxembourg, at Saint-Sulpice, at the Arc de Triomphe, at Montmartre, at the Louvre. I was fascinated to see that these people wrote of how being in Paris changed them; I felt the same way when I returned home last summer. Paris m'a transformé.


And then I stepped into 1931 Paris via The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Author/illustrator Brian Selznick created an enormous 534-page picture book, the story of a boy left orphaned by the death of his parents and his uncle who must keep the clocks going in a train station in Paris. The boy, Hugo Cabret, works in his spare time to finish a project his father began, a mechanical man. It is when Hugo meets a toyshop owner and his ward that Hugo begins to finally complete the mechanical man and discovers what the mysteries behind what the mechanical man can do. This story has it all. Magic. Movies. Trains. Clocks. And, of course, Paris.

I can't seem to get Paris out of my head.



18 comments:

  1. Paris looks great. The book by David McCullough sounds like a must read. I'd love to go back to Paris some day!

    harvee44@yahoo.com
    Book Dilettante

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  2. And then there is Paris in the movies, with some of those same writers...in Woody Allen's latest, Midnight in Paris. A wonderful fantasy journey.

    Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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  3. Ooooh. I already have the Selznick book on the hold list at the library...and while I haven't heard of the McCullough book, I'll have to seek it out. I love McCullough, ever since discovering him via The American Experience on PBS. One of my favorite books still is his Truman.

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  4. It is hard to get Paris out of one's mind. Especially with this excessive heat and drought we're experiencing in Texas! Italy will be my next big trip. I can't wait to experience the food and the art! Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  5. May I recommend The Flaneur by Edmund White. It's a memoir of walking through Paris. It's an excellent what to take a short, vicarious vacation to the City of Light.

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  6. Nice to "meet" you! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I've always wanted to visit Paris! I like the way McCullough writes so I've put that book on my to read list!

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  7. I've already placed McCullough's book on Paris on my list to read! I think I'm going to do the same with the Selznick book.

    I'm a big fan of McCullough and have read a couple of his books, they read well.

    My wife and I went to Paris almost 2 years ago and we loved it! I highly recommend a visit!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

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  8. I have been immersing myself in all things French in preparation for my trip. I have purchased The Greater Journey and this review has persuaded me to pick it up and start reading today!

    I will probably email you with a few questions....and the opportunity to share my Parisian excitement :)

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  9. I loved the McCullough book as well and cannot wait to return to Paris.

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  10. There's the English Bookshop in Paris to visit when there: it's lovely to browse - unfortunately I don't have the photo on my netbook (am on holiday in Cyprus at the moment), but you should visit if you can. It has the most amazing collection of English books.

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  11. I am always amazed to see the same books in your post that I have on my nightstand. :-) Hugo Cabret is one of the books I'm hoping to re-read this week. Since you're thinking about Paris so much have you read The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris? It's by John Baxter. Have a great week!

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  12. I just got the McCullough book on audio - can't wait to find time for it! And Hugo Cabret is a hit at our house - I loved it, and so did all four of my kids. :)

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  13. Certainly seems like you will have your fill of Paris:) Enjoy and have a great week Deb

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  14. I've always wanted to go to Paris, and I think reading vicariously is a great idea. The McCullough book seems great, and I hope I can get my hands on a copy. Good luck to everyone joining the giveaway. Anna and the French Kiss is an amazing book. :)

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  15. That is what I love about books....you can go anywhere, anytime as you get lost in a great book! Bonjour!

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  16. I LOVE that feeling of history in a place and of knowing that great minds have walked the same roads as we do now. Great that you re-lived your trip to Paris through books! I have yet to visit there but it's on my bucket list of travel locations.

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  17. Loved, loved, loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret. What a unique idea.

    You should check out Paris in July, if you haven't already. Sponsored by http://thyme-for-tea.blogspot.com/ and http://bookbath.blogspot.com/

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  18. Two great books there. Of course I've just read Hugo Cabret, and am well aware of how fantastic a concept it is. Well worth reading. I'm seeing the McCullough book on lots of blogs. There's a couple of preview videos on the Amazon page that make it seem really intriguing even to non-Americans. Can I also give you a plug for The Flaneur, although it's been a number of years since I read it, and the memory isn't what it should be. I just bought John Baxter's The Most Beautiful Walk just a few weeks ago. I read another of his books- A Paris Christmas earlier in the year too. So many Paris books, so little time.

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