Photo of the Week

Paris-Update-Louvre-evening

The Louvre lights up. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Hélène Angel's Primaire. Cinéma Le Brady, Paris, Feb. 24

Virtual reality on show
> Virtuality will host speakers and networking sessions on this hot topice. Centquatre, Paris, Feb. 24-26.

Contemporary textile art
>Miniartextil is an exhibition of new textiles from around the world. Le Beffroi, Montrouge, Feb. 22-March 19.

A barnyard in Paris

ParisUpdate-cow
> The Salon International de l'Agriculture brings the best of the country's livestock and crops and the products made from them to Paris. Porte de Versailles, Paris, Feb. 25-March 5.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, March 1-April 13.

Paris semi-marathon
> Starts and ends on the Esplanade du Château de Vincennes, March 5.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Matthew Lancit's Flâneurs (Street Rambles). Cinéma MacMahon, Paris, March 3.

Literary conversations
> The festival New Writings, New Styles brings well-known Irish and French writers together to discuss contemporary literature in the two countries. Irish Cultural Centre, Paris, March 3-4.

Indian film scene
> The festival India Express takes a tour of new and classic films focusing on the subcontinent’s major cities. Forum des Images, Paris, through Feb. 26.

Young European photographers
> The Festival Circulation(s) features emerging photographers. Centquatre, Paris, through March 5.

Frank Capra Retrospective
> The great American director in the spotlight. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 27.

 

Books - Non Fiction

 

Almost French

Better Than a Guidebook

Turnbull does some frog-bashing, but eventually falls in love with the French way of life.


Sarah Turnbull’s book Almost French has reportedly been flying off bookstore shelves in the United States. Some readers might well have been reading the book in the hope of finding some appropriate frog-bashing in the aftermath of the Iraq war, and they will not be disappointed. But that wouldn't be doing justice to a book that does indeed display irritation at the many infuriating aspects of life in France, such as the bureaucracy and snobbery, but which in the final analysis is a story about an Australian woman falling in love with a French man and then with the whole French way of life.

The quirks and wonders of Paris are vividly and wittily depicted by Turnbull, even though her description of excruciating dinner parties suggests that she should change her friends. My Parisian dinner party friends have in no ways ever resembled Turnbull’s stuck-up, conventional dinner companions. At times it is hard to empathize with Turnbull when she claims proudly that she has become truly French by acquiring a dog and paying 84 euros at a dog-grooming salon, but her feistiness and honesty in writing about the problems she faces settling into Paris make an engaging and absorbing read. And her love of French food and food-shopping is mouthwateringly evoked throughout the book.

Those looking for a knowledgeable assessment of French culture will, however, be disappointed: the nearest Turnbull gets to stepping into an art gallery, for instance, is when she looks at a painting depicting the street where she lives. But for visitors to Paris who want to discover French life as experienced by an outsider, Turnbull’s book will be much more revealing and fun to read than a hundred guidebooks.


Almost French, by Sarah Turnbull (New York: Gotham Books), paperback.


Nick Hammond

© 2005 Paris Update

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