Friday, April 20, 2007

A year in the merde (Stephen Clarke)

This book had me laughing out loud on the tube... and earned me weird looks from fellow commuters. The main (Brit) character moves to Paris for a year to take up a new job, and ends up in a complete cross-Chunnel cultural conflict. It is truly hilarious (the bit about French people kissing in the office and shaking hands all day long will ring a bell with many who have visited Paris on business). Clarke manages the difficult exercise of being frankly satirical about (ridiculous ?) French habits and has at the same time a real love of the country and a lot of tenderness for the locals. One downside of the book is that you need to have some knowledge of French to make the most of the excellent puns... but overall much recommended reading. His other books are no as funny as this one, but still make an excellent read for an afternoon at the beach (particularly "talk to the Snail").