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From Paris to the Moon

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From Paris to the Moon

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    Available in PDF Format | From Paris to the Moon.pdf | English
    Adam Gopnik(Author)
Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans.

In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light. Gopnik is a longtime New Yorker writer, and the magazine has sent its writers to Paris for decades--but his was above all a personal pilgrimage to the place that had for so long been the undisputed capital of everything cultural and beautiful. It was also the opportunity to raise a child who would know what it was to romp in the Luxembourg Gardens, to enjoy a croque monsieur in a Left Bank café--a child (and perhaps a father, too) who would have a grasp of that Parisian sense of style we Americans find so elusive.

So, in the grand tradition of the American abroad, Gopnik walked the paths of the Tuileries, enjoyed philosophical discussions at his local bistro, wrote as violet twilight fell on the arrondissements. Of course, as readers of Gopnik's beloved and award-winning "Paris Journals" in The New Yorker know, there was also the matter of raising a child and carrying on with day-to-day, not-so-fabled life. Evenings with French intellectuals preceded middle-of-the-night baby feedings; afternoons were filled with trips to the Musée d'Orsay and pinball games; weekday leftovers were eaten while three-star chefs debated a "culinary crisis."

As Gopnik describes in this funny and tender book, the dual processes of navigating a foreign city and becoming a parent are not completely dissimilar journeys--both hold new routines, new languages, a new set of rules by which everyday life is lived. With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. "We went to Paris for a sentimental reeducation-I did anyway-even though the sentiments we were instructed in were not the ones we were expecting to learn, which I believe is why they call it an education."

Commissioned by The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik spent five years in Paris with his wife, Martha and son, Luke, writing dispatches now collected here along with previously unpublished journal entries in Paris to the Moon.

2.2 (9218)
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Book details

  • PDF | 338 pages
  • Adam Gopnik(Author)
  • Random House USA Inc; Second Printing edition (Sept. 2000)
  • English
  • 7
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy
Read online or download a free book: From Paris to the Moon

Review Text

  • By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on 9 February 2013

    Hate that title, but AG is an astute chronicler of French mores (and incidentally a more than worthy successor to Janet Flanner). 'There is no Regulon in the Semiosphere.' It's not Star Trek or Hitchhiker's Guide, it's France - and actually both a serious and a whimsical notion as refracted through the lens Gopnikian. One of those books that's attracted the full spectrum of response, both here and stateside, as amazon.com reveals. It's easy to feel a tad envious of this debonaire American-in-Paris (which he knew as a child) and appearing in British paperback eight years after original publication his political and economic observations cannot but feel somewhat dated, but I soon warmed to him: read #5 (on exercise and the French) and I think you will too. Though teetering on the edge of the precious (I didn't quite see how subtitles could occlude themselves, top of p100) these dispatches avoid cliché and embrace wit: I can see why Americans - who can't just 'pop over' - would warm to this embedded, mildly exasperated account. Try Winter Journal #1 & 2. And I've never before seen someone put the boot into the Musée d'Orsay (p102). Way to go, Adam! Privileged no doubt, he's engaging with it - and at least we get to share! 4.5Edit 3/17Read him also on statehood vs nationhood (p114), apposite as the mournful sound of the Brexit knell envelops all around

  • By Bruce Kendall on 30 November 2002

    The title, Paris to the Moon, derives, as the author points out, from a book by Jules Verne (From the Earth to the Moon [1865]). It may also conjure up, as it did in my mind, George Melies silent masterpiece, "Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902), with its unforgettable image of the man in the moon wincing as the rocket hits him square in the right eye. Unfortunately, this is only one of many of Gopnik's rather forced allusions, and for the most part, his prose doesn't quite measure up to his aspirations. His attempts at coming across as a reverse-crossing Alexis De Toqueville never acquire the necessary intellectual weight to be taken seriously. This leaves him in Peter Mayle territory, the French capital equivalent of the Provencal ex-pat, wending his way somewhat comically through the trials and tribulations of Gallic bureaucracy, with large dollops of cultural commentary along the way. Here again, however, the comparisons do not lend themselves favorably to Gopnik. Mayle is much better at this sort of thing. For one thing, Gopnik's anecdotes are far less amusing than Mayle's. Whereas Mayle's vignettes capture perfectly the charming idiosyncrasies of his Provencal neighbors, Gopnik's come across as recherche, almost contrived. Again like Mayle (who must at the least, have been in the back of Gopnik's mind as a model for this sort of writing), Gopnik frequently digresses in his story to discuss cultural and particularly political variants in Parisian society. Yet whereas Mayle might take off on a tangent that actually leads to some new insight into "the French character," Gopnik provides no real revelation or compelling portrait. We just get his less than insightful musings in too many instances.The book's strong points, on the other hand, look, at first glance, as among its most glaring weaknesses. At one point in the book, he writes for several pages about a bed time story he made up for his young son. It revolves around an infant baseball player, named the kid, who becomes a pitcher for the early-century New York Giants. What starts out as gaggingly cloying, turns out to be rather inspired story telling. It also provides a very sweet, genuinely touching portrait of the relationship this father had with his little boy.Another high mark goes to Gopnick for providing some genuinely useful information for Americans who might wish to make a prolonged sojourn in Paris. His discussion of the differences between American and French appliances and the varied assortment of outlet prongs should serve as a valuable warning to Yankees who want to follow in Stein's, Fitzgerald's and Hemingway's footsteps, as should his depiction of apartment hunting in the city of lights.Some reviewers I've read have objected to the fact that Gopnik was in too privileged a position and vantage point to be somehow "authentic." This is beside the point. These were "New Yorker" articles, after all, not Michelin Guides. Though a little pseudo-intellectual at times, Gopnik does not come across as a snob.There are shortcomings and merits to this book. As a family journal, it succeeds, as we do get a clear picture of what it is like to raise a small nuclear family (later a "choix du Roi [sp?]) in the environs of Paris. Where the book fails, is in its measure of wit, which by Maylesian standards, is sub-par.

  • By Erika Borsos on 24 October 2004

    Living in Paris was the dream and wish of this author since hefirst visited during his teenage years. It has been said, "once, you visit Paris, you must return ..." and much of the allure is based on the desire to relive the memories of the first meal ever consumed there, recalling all the tantalizing and delicious flavors that only Parisians can create.The book is essentially a 4 year memoir of living in Paris from the mid-1990s. The author is a writer for the New Yorker magazine, his wife a screenplay writer, who, along with their infant son, pack up and leave their home in New York, for the adventure of a lifetime. What I loved most about the book is how the author compares and contrasts American thinking, logic, and values with those of the socialistic, French, cosmopolitan view. The book is educational, literary, entertaining and occasionally amusing. The author's technique of interspersing French history and political outlook with current events and situations is particularly effective. The author writes with first hand knowledge about fashion shows held by the elite designers, the Parisian cuisine of the most well-established restaurants, reasons for some fo the strikes, the socialistic approach to healthcare, and even apartment hunting, explaining how & why the government owns apartments in the "best" neighborhoods, available only to highly elected officals.Of interest to me, was a chapter on the political trial of a government official who had been involved in processing the paperwork for Jews who were deported to concentration camps during World War II - the sobering past is never too far away. My favorite story was the "Balzar Wars" in which a group of restaurant regulars (well established customers) form an "association" to stand up for the rights of the waiters (garcons) when an restaurant tycoon buys this favorite restaurant of theirs ... The author describes favorite "haunts" of his such as museums, art galleries, parks near the Left Bank, and even how to maneuver through the red-tape of the "Bibliotheque National" (Naitonal Library). He also describes the favorite places of his son, who is around 2 - 3 years of age by then. Another charming story was his son's first "love affair" with a Parisian blond beauty, of about 4 years of age. There is just the right combination of intellectual discourse, creative description and chatty banter, to create a hihgly pleasurable reading experience. Erika Borsos (bakonyvilla)

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