Hey guys, Stephanie Perkins is in Paris. Lucky girl! I suppose it's not really luck, though. She made a plan and made it happen. But first . . . she wrote a book. Her first novel, coming this fall from Dutton, is set in Paris, and her third novel will be set there too, so this is a research trip. How wonderful are research trips to awesome places?
Five or six years ago Jim and I took a trip to Prague to research a graphic novel we were planning. Then, post-Prague, I realized the graphic novel was a "newt"* and what I should be working on was Blackbringer, which was half-finished at the time, so I got back to it and the graphic novel has still not manifested itself. But. But! The novel I am working on NOW happens to be set . . . in Prague! Mostly. There's this bit in Morocco, and I've never been to Morocco. Hm. I think another research trip is called for . . .
Let this be a lesson to you: set your books in exotic places, so you can go to them. [Tina Fey: "I want to go to there."]
Speaking of Paris, I recently read a wonderful novel set in Paris, by the French author Anna Gavalda. The English title is Hunting and Gathering (French title = Ensemble, c'est Tout) My friend Lori, who lives in Amsterdam, loaned it to me when she was stateside for the holidays, and I loved it. I may have to get my own copy -- she actually gave me a French copy, but my French is woeful (I set out to minor in French in college, but ended up dropping it), so I borrowed her British edition, but I like the US cover better. So. It's the story of a young Parisian artist, Camille, "exhausted from ennui and anorexia" (I know -- from that, it doesn't sound like my kind of book, but it was) who finds salvation in a strange makeshift family when she moves in with her eccentric downstairs neighbor, an aristocrat . . .
I'm not doing a good job of this. Here is the Publisher's Weekly blurb:
"Camille, a talented artist exhausted by ennui and anorexia, cleans offices at night and cowers in a shabby garret by day. Philibert, the fastidious scion of a titled family, peddles museum postcards while squatting in his dead grandmother's Parisian manse, waiting for her estate to be settled. Philibert's roommate, Franck, a talented (and womanizing) chef with ambition to burn, motorcycles once a week to look in on his stubborn, ailing grandmother Paulette, an "inmate" at a retirement home. . . "
Cut. The rest is spoilers. I see no need for that. Booklist says, "a winning portrait of a group of misfits who band together to form their own family." And that's what it is.
Oh. Yeah. And it was made into an Audrey Tautou movie. Will it be coming here, I wonder?
Anyway, getting back to the original inspiration for this post: Stephanie's Paris blog posts are awesome, most recently, where she ferrets out every single "hot man" inside the Louvre. Of the paint-on-canvas variety. Hint: there aren't very many. Men who got themselves immortalized in art? It wasn't for being pretty. So, go see Steph.
* "newt" - a New Weird Thing, that is, a writing project that is usurping the place of another writing project. Also known as a "slutty new idea". Newts are to be discouraged, despite their unfailing awesomeness.