Tuesday, 12 June 2012
From Paris with Love
Beware of books set in Paris.
I read a book set in Paris recently. Well, it purported to be a book set in Paris, but it actually turned out to be a book about Paris. Because we have such a romanticised view of Paris, of how magical a place it is, it seems as though all writing concerned with it becomes infected by this view. Obsessed with it. Whole pages are dedicated to presenting us with its majesty, with its grandeur, at the cost of everything else.
The thing is, I know what Paris looks like. We all do. Countless films and photographs and books and stories have given it this kind of mystical allure, this sense of enchantment. I don't know about anyone else, but my view of Paris has been warped. In a book set in Paris, I expect there to be love and passion and style and culture. That the people will behave in certain ways, that the city itself will make them behave in certain ways.
Which leads me to think that maybe we don't need these endless passages dedicated to this wonderful city. It has an image so strongly branded onto our minds and imaginations that describing the place has become obsolete. Think about it. Paris. What images does that conjour up? Do you need me to say anything more?