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Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down

Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down

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3.64

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A fresh, exhilarating take on one of the world’s most popular topics—Paris, the City of Light!—by an acclaimed young novelistA self-described Francophile, Rosecrans Baldwin always dreamed of living in Paris—drinking le café, eating les croissants, walking in les jardins—so when the opportunity to work as a copywriter for an advertising agency in Paris presented itself, he couldn’t turn it down. Despite the fact that he had no experience in advertising. And despite the fact that he wasn’t exactly fluent in French. Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down is a nimble, comical account of observing the French capital from the inside out. It is an expedition into the Paris of Sarkozy, smoking bans, and a McDonald’s beneath the Louvre—the story of an American who loves Paris all out of proportion, who loves every beret and baguette cliché, but who finds life there to be very different from what he expected. At first, it’s just the joy of running across the lingerie section in the hardware store, but over the next eighteen months, Rosecrans must rely on his American optimism to get him through some very unromantic situations—at work (where he discovers a shockingly long-honored Parisian work ethic), at home (where his wife, who works at home, is dismayed not just by his hours but by the active construction that surrounds their apartment on five sides), and everywhere in between. An offbeat, up-to-date, surprising entry in the expat canon, Paris, I Love You is a book about a young man who witnesses his preconceptions replaced by the oddities of a vigorous, nervy city—exactly what he needs to uncover a Paris of his own, and fall in love with the city all over again.
A fresh, exhilarating take on one of the world’s most popular topics—Paris, the City of Light!—by an acclaimed young novelistA self-described Francophile, Rosecrans Baldwin always dreamed of living in Paris—drinking le café, eating les croissants, walking in les jardins—so when the opportunity to work as a copywriter for an advertising agency in Paris presented itself, he couldn’t turn it down. Despite the fact that he had no experience in advertising. And despite the fact that he wasn’t exactly fluent in French. Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down is a nimble, comical account of observing the French capital from the inside out. It is an expedition into the Paris of Sarkozy, smoking bans, and a McDonald’s beneath the Louvre—the story of an American who loves Paris all out of proportion, who loves every beret and baguette cliché, but who finds life there to be very different from what he expected. At first, it’s just the joy of running across the lingerie section in the hardware store, but over the next eighteen months, Rosecrans must rely on his American optimism to get him through some very unromantic situations—at work (where he discovers a shockingly long-honored Parisian work ethic), at home (where his wife, who works at home, is dismayed not just by his hours but by the active construction that surrounds their apartment on five sides), and everywhere in between. An offbeat, up-to-date, surprising entry in the expat canon, Paris, I Love You is a book about a young man who witnesses his preconceptions replaced by the oddities of a vigorous, nervy city—exactly what he needs to uncover a Paris of his own, and fall in love with the city all over again.

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Publish date: Apr 24, 2012
Added to Scribd: Apr 20, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux18 West 18th Street, New York 10011Copyright © 2012 by Rosecrans BaldwinAll rights reservedDistributed in Canada by D&M Publishers, Inc.Printed in the United States of AmericaFirst edition, 2012Portions of this book have previously been publishedin substantially different form in
The Morning News
.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataBaldwin, Rosecrans.Paris, I love you but you’re bringing me down / Rosecrans Baldwin — 1st ed.p. cm.ISBN 978-0-374-14668-9 (alk. paper)1. Baldwin, Rosecrans. 2. Baldwin, Rosecrans—Homes and haunts— France—Paris. 3. Americans—France—Paris—Biography. 4. Couples— France—Paris—Biography. 5. Paris (France)—Biography. 6. Paris (France) — Description and travel. 7. Paris (France)—Social life and customs. I. Title.DC718.A44 B35 2012944'.36108412092— dc23[B]2011045886Designed by Jonathan D. Lippincott www.fsgbooks.com 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
 
1
The sun above Paris was a mid- July clementine. I bought copiesof 
Le Monde
and the
Herald Tribune
at a kiosk and climbed thestairs to my new office on the Champs-Elysées. For three hours,I mugged at a laptop, trying to figure out how the e-mail systemworked. My fingers were chattering. I spent long, spacey minutestrying to find the @ key. They’d given me a keyboard mapped forFrench speakers, with the letters switched around.For the rest of the day, strangers approached and handed mefolders, speaking to me in French while I panicked inside. A sen-tence would begin slow, with watery syncopation, then acceler-ate, gurgling until it slammed into an
ennnnnnh
, or an
urrrrrrrr 
,and I’d be expected to respond.What did they want from me?Why was every question a confrontation?First day on the job, my French was not super. I’d sort of misledthem about that.The advertising agency occupied three floors of a buildinglocated a few blocks east of the Arc de Triomphe, next to aMcDonald’s. Our floor might have been a wing from Versailles.Chandeliers everywhere. Gold-flaked moldings. Long roomswalled by spotty mirrors. There were fireplaces like cave mouths,and high ceilings painted with frescoes. A cherub’s little whitegut mooned my desk.For a long time I’d thought Paris had the world’s best everything.

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freelancer_frank reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This is a book about Paris and being a fish out of water. Baldwin's insights on the latter - (the difficulties with language etc...) are entertaining and universal. His observations on Parisian life are fresh and incisive. They neither descend into cliche nor over-correct by focusing on the banal. Instead he offers a cast of tightly observed characters from his working and social life in the city. The book frequently prompts a delicious hilarity - especially when Baldwin deploys his trick of translating directly, and without warning, from his poor French back into the actual English. The work made me feel good about Paris and about life in general.
debnance_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Rosencrans Baldwin has loved Paris since he was a little boy and when he is given an opportunity to move to Paris and work there, he is jubilant. Reality of life in Paris sets in quickly, unfortunately, and he finds he doesn’t know as much French as he thought he did, his apartment is a loud construction zone, and Parisian government workers and business owners can be intimidating.Fortunately for all of us who are secretly rooting for Paris, Baldwin perseveres and his Love for Paris (I’m not really giving anything away if you know anything about Paris) wins out. Baldwin writes well (something that is not always true of people who write Paris Stories) so that gives Paris I Love You additional points.
booksinthebelfrey reviewed this
Rated 3/5
In many ways this book is a welcome corrective to the current rash of books insisting that the French (like the annoying character in Nicole Hollander's comic strip "Sylvia" ) Do Everything More Beautifully Than You. It turns out, for example, that Rosecrans Baldwin's co-workers at a Paris advertising agency are wont to lunch on McDonald's takeout (albeit in quintessentially French style, starting with a "first course" of chicken nuggets and moving through a burger entree to a salad course and then dessert). And Baldwin's descriptions of tangling with French bureaucracy make the reader want to weep with sympathetic frustration. For the most part, however, I did not find his insights all that illuminating, and his noble attempts to avoid romantic cliche and find fresh descriptive language for the city that has fascinated him since early youth frequently result in comparisons that are obscure at best and at worst just off-putting, such as this description of the city's arrangement into arrondissements:"Paris's neighborhoods are organized like a twist. They spiral from the river like toilet water flushing in reverse and erupting out of the bowl...."In some places Baldwin also seems to have been ill-served by his editor and/or proofreaders, such as when he writes about focusing on his "annunciation" rather than on his "enunciation." (To be clear, this is not an amusing cross-cultural slip of the tongue. It is a straightforward vocabulary error in English.)Overall, I would say about this book the same thing Baldwin tactfully says to a Paris real-estate agent about an apartment decorated in a style not to his taste, "Ce n'est pas terrible."
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