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MODERN LIBRARY'S 100 BEST NOVELS

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New York Times Book Review: 6/40
New Yorker: 0/36
New York Review of Books: 0/20
Vogue: 1/16
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

Title: Paris to the Moon

Author: Adam Gopnik

First Published: 2000

No. of Pages: 338

Synopsis (from B&N): "The comic-romantic adventures of an American family in Paris is penned by the New Yorker writer and author of the magazine's popular Paris Journal column. The private story is rooted in the sentimental reeducation of a weary American through the experience of his son's childhood in France."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: My favorite sections of this book were those involving the author and his son. The family moved from New York to Paris when the child was not yet one and the differences that the author finds (or doesn't find) between a French and an American childhood are highly interesting. I also enjoyed the insights into French culture and felt that the author did a wonderful job of giving cross-cultural reference points to make the insights more understandable. An example:

"Yet the government underestimated the extraordinary hold that the word student has on the French imagination, a little like the hold the word farmer has on Americans. In fact the phrase student movement has in France much the same magic that the phrase family farm has in America, conjuring up an idealized past, even for people who never took part in a student movement or lived on a family farm."
One of my favorite sections discussed soccer and completely captured the average American feelings toward that sport. I have to share this little snippet, which I found both funny and so much what I feel watching a game that I could have written it myself.

"The other, more customary method of getting a penalty is to walk into the 'area' with the ball, get breathed on hard, and then immediately collapse, like a man shot by a sniper, arms and legs splayed out, while you twist in agony and beg for morphine, and your teammates smite their foreheads at the tragic waste of a young life."
The book is not perfect, however. Some of the chapters felt not out of place exactly, but almost as though two books had been shuffled together and this is the result. You feel as though a few of the sections could have been magazine articles, such as the 20-page chapter entitled "The Crisis in French Cooking." I suppose I felt this way because these chapters are less about the author and his family than an overview of a cultural subject. Another example is the 15-page section on high fashion that would make anyone's (other than a dedicated reader of Vogue) eyes glaze over, especially during the detailed descriptions of the clothes. I generally enjoy fashion writing and I found this chapter a bit too much.

Challenges: Summer Vacation Reading; Well-Rounded Challenge

1 comments:

Lesllie Tripaathhy said...

beautifully reviewed..

god bless