In Other Words: Tales of Paris and Language

Overview

Of the many books about the American experience of Paris, Laurie Graham's In Other Words is noteworthy not only for its elegance and charm, but for its depiction of how a place gains meaning when viewed through the prism of language.

When Graham bought her apartment in Paris, she saw the tiny pied-à-terre as an extension of her love for the French language, a physical place that would make the language real. In this series of six related essays, Graham takes the reader on an ...

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Overview

Of the many books about the American experience of Paris, Laurie Graham's In Other Words is noteworthy not only for its elegance and charm, but for its depiction of how a place gains meaning when viewed through the prism of language.

When Graham bought her apartment in Paris, she saw the tiny pied-à-terre as an extension of her love for the French language, a physical place that would make the language real. In this series of six related essays, Graham takes the reader on an intimate tour of her Paris. With humor and a lively eye for detail, she describes her search for just the right apartment and, later, her anxieties about the building's soundness; her encounters with her very French neighbors; her thoughts on "fitting in"; and, most alarming, her husband's emergency trip in the wee hours of the morning to Cochin Hospital, as he lay delirious and coughing up blood. But never far from the story is the joy to be found in words. Woven into her tales of Paris is a fascinating and lighthearted rendering of the sounds, the vocabulary, and the structures of the French language that will delight both students of language and the Francophile general reader.

Laurie Graham was an editor at Scribner's for eighteen years and is the author of Rebuilding the House, a New York Times Notable Book, and Singing the City: The Bonds of Home in an Industrial Landscape. In this new book, she shows us a way to look at Paris and language that sheds new light on why so many of us love this great city and the pleasure to be found in living in other words.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Graham (Rebuilding the House; Singing the City: The Bonds of Home in an Industrial Landscape) has written before about the concepts of place and of home. Rather than a cohesive work, her latest is a series of essays generally dealing with themes of place and grief. The first two chapters, "Bibliophillia" and "L'achat," were originally published in Creative Nonfiction and have a different feel from the last four chapters, which deal with Graham's life in Paris during her husband's illness and after his death. Taken as a whole, this book is more about the author, her grief, and a sense of home and her perceptions (as filtered through language) of her surroundings than about the joy of a linguistic tour of a second home. VERDICT Graham's writing style is erudite and engaging, and the book is a pleasant read; however, those in search of female authors' memoirs about losing spouses may be better served by Anne Roiphe's Epilogue or Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking.—Felicity D. Walsh, Emory Univ., Decatur, GA


—Felicity D. Walsh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595713704
  • Publisher: Word Association Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2009
  • Pages: 153
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurie Graham was an editor at Scribner's for eighteen years and is the author of Rebuilding the House, a New York Times Notable Book, and Singing the City: The Bonds of Home in an Industrial Landscape. In this new book, she shows us a way to look at Paris and language that sheds new light on why so many of us love this great city and the pleasure to be found in living in other words.
Read More Show Less

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