Monsieur Mediocre

Monsieur Mediocre

One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French

Book - 2019
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"Americans love to love Paris. We buy books about how the French parent, why French women don't get fat, and how to be Parisian wherever you are. While our work hours increase every year, we think longingly of the six weeks of vacation the French enjoy, imagining them at the seaside in stripes with plates of fruits de mer. John von Sothen fell in love with Paris through the stories his mother told of her year spent there as a student. After falling for and marrying the French waitress he meets in New York, von Sothen follows his mother's dream and moves to Paris. But fifteen years in, he's finally ready to admit his mother's Paris is mostly a fantasy. In this hilarious and delightful collection of essays, von Sothen walks us through real life in Paris--myth-busting our Parisian daydreams but also revealing the inimitable and too often invisible pleasures of family life abroad. Through these essays, you'll learn about what to do when you unwittingly commit yourself to two weeks of vacation with friends who ration snacks down to the gram and who mock you mercilessly for sleeping in; how to react when French men turn to you, the American, for fashion tips such as where to find a Maine trapper vest; and how to tell if you're being invited to a super-exclusive secret society of intellectuals or, alternately, a weird sex club. Relentlessly funny and full of incisive observations, Monsieur Mediocre is ultimately a love letter to France--to its absurdities, its history, its ideals--but it's a very French love letter: frank, smoky, unsentimental. It is a clear-eyed ode to a beautiful, complex, contradictory country from someone who both eagerly and grudgingly calls it home"-- Provided by publisher.
Sothen fell in love with Paris through the stories his mother told of her year spent there as a student. After falling for and marrying the French waitress he meets in New York, he moved to Paris. But fifteen years in, he's finally ready to admit his mother's Paris is mostly a fantasy. Here he walks us through real life in Paris, myth-busting our Parisian daydreams but also revealing the inimitable and too often invisible pleasures of family life abroad. His book is ultimately a love letter to France-- to its absurdities, its history, its ideals-- from someone who both eagerly and grudgingly calls it home. -- adapted from jacket
Topical Term: Americans
Authors, American
Biography
Publisher: [New York] : Viking, [2019]
ISBN: 9780735224834
0735224838
Branch Call Number: DC33.8 .S68 2019
Characteristics: xvi, 270 pages ; 24 cm

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From Library Staff

Ah, Paris! There’s no city quite like it. And these days, when Americans are finding vacations as scarce as video rental stores, it’s hard not to look with longing at the six weeks’ getaway still in vogue across the pond. But American-­born columnist John von Sothen didn’t come to France for the ... Read More »


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lilypad_1
Oct 07, 2019

I love an insider's look at Paris if only to make me feel better that maybe it is not as wonderful as it looks. The bureaucracy there is unbelievable, the societal strata seems very difficult to find your way around. Free health care and rent controlled apartments, mass transit(even with strikes) sound pretty good to me. The more I read the more I liked this book, also hearing about the French reaction to our politics was interesting- as well as their politics. Then they bought a house in the country and that added to the complications. In Paris they live in an area where there are encampments of immigrants which adds to the dimension of how complicated life is there. Thumbs up!

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