Oscar Wilde said that good Americans go to Paris when they die, but for many the ville lumière was a regular destination in life, and for some, the one place where they felt free to live realized, adult lives. Herewith, a few titles by and about notable American lovers of Paris:
Paris was Yesterday by Janet Flanner
This is a lovely collection of the Paris Letters which were published in Harold Ross’s New Yorker during the 1920’s and the 1930’s. Ross told her to report not what she thought about Paris and France, but what the French thought-and so she did. Wonderful vignettes of people like Carlo Ponzi the con man, Marlene Dietrich, Colette, and Coco Chanel, make that distant era come alive.
Paris in the Fifties by Stanley Karnow
A treasure from a Time Magazine writer who spent many years in France after the second world war. Karnow met and married a Frenchwoman, learned fluent French, interviewed or met or quarreled with everybody who was anybody in the 1950’s. Unexpected dividend: a detailed portrait of Ho Chi Minh. Another, the discussion of the rise of the House of Dior. Still another, a close account of the Sartre-de Beauvoir-Camus matrix, followed by eager French-like sports figures.
Being Geniuses together, 1920-1930 by Robert McAlmon
A classic self-serving memoir of Paris, with preface and afterword as correctives by Kay Boyle. McAlmon although unproductive as a writer, edited a literary journal published with his wife’s money and a series of short novels, the Contact editions, but he knew Continue reading “Americans in Paris”