From the Publisher
“Call him the anti-Mayle. Stephen Clarke is acerbic, insulting, un-PC and mostly hilarious.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Highly entertaining…Clarke renders the flavor of life in Paris impeccably: the endless strikes, the sadistic receptionists…Clarke's eye for detail is terrific.” Washington Post
“Those who enjoyed Clarke's first book will certainly delight in his newest production.” Library Journal
“This memoir is full of comic misadventure and misunderstanding, but underlying it is a deep affection for France and its people. Along the way, there is plenty of hilarity.” Booklist
“Paul [West] is also a comic, canny observer of French rural customs and English business practices alike.” Kirkus Reviews
The title of this fake memoir-as-novel should alert readers as to what they're in for: lots of puns, jokes, wordplay-and playing around in general, with people, events, and feelings. British journalist Clarke's predecessor to this volume, A Year in the Merde, has become an international best seller and a favorite on airplane travelers' reading lists. With this sequel, you will not find yourself in the midst of a guide to Paris and some French garden spots; rather, you will see Paris and the French countryside through the eyes of a smart, late-twentysomething Englishman attempting to open a British tea room in the heart of Paris and win the heart of-or at least a night with-a beautiful young woman named Alexa. Those who enjoyed Clarke's first book will certainly delight in his newest production. However, if you easily tire of vivid bedroom escapades, descriptions of binge drinking, and negative assessments of the French, you may wish to find your amusement elsewhere. Recommended for the fiction rather than travel sections of large public and academic libraries.-Olga B. Wise, Austin, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
More from Englishman Clarke on the cultural collision he underwent upon his move to France. As in A Year in the Merde (2005), narrator Paul West stands in for the author. Still itchy in his French skin, Paul finds that when he starts to display signs of outrage, his French girlfriend reminds him, "You are English. You must show your phlegm." But he is slowly becoming Gallified, learning "how to barge in front of someone to nab a Parisian cafe table." Paul is trying to start an English-style tea room in Paris, and he describes all the expected bureaucratic travails, but what is on his mind first and foremost is sex. Yes, he knows how to enjoy a sunset and tuck into the food and tip a glass (he's turned that last into an art form), but his eye is keen on anatomy. Even when looking at his girlfriend's mother, he observes that "her buttocks were bouncing around in the nightdress like two bald men trying to escape from a tent." And to his specific amorous interest, he brings a Wodehousean turn of phrase (if ever Wodehouse had talked of sex): "As soon as your fingers so much as brushed against each other's skin, the other parts of your body start saying they'd like to join in with this skin-brushing business." One minute he is worried that his girlfriend has altogether too much knowledge about erections, the next he is appreciative of another woman's eyes, "curacao blue and apparently back-lit." Though a slave to his libido, Paul is also a comic, canny observer of French rural customs and English business practices alike. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Graceful in his inappropriateness, tactless only with his readers, Paul as hero provides plenty of good, plain-old inept fun.