From the Publisher
To the immortal health of Karen Elizabeth Gordon's Paris Out of Hand, the most entertaining nonfiction book I've read all year. Her delirium of prose stands out among the year's best fiction, too...The book cartwheeling over so many issues of design, color, art history, stand-up comedy and performance art that I must remind myself that it is a lo-and-behold book provides a mischievous, faux travelogue of a brightly imagined Paris. Paris Out of Hand is told and sung through fiction, fakery and the bold interplay of words and images....Everything in her City by the Seine is surreal, magical, and possible: At the Hotel Helias, "Paris' answer to the Heartbreak Hotel," handkerchiefs are handed out with room keys; and chocolate, because of it's euphoric and erotic properties is strictly forbidden.
The sustained performance is one of grins and asides, in which the allusions to France, literature, the artists of the old Left Bank, come in buckets; one can sip and dip at leisure.
Karen Elizabeth Gordon, Barbara Hodgson, and Nick Bantock collaborated on the writing, illustration, and design of Paris out of Hand.
...The book cartwheeling over so many issues of design, color, art history, stand-up comedy and performance art that I must remind myself that it is a lo-and-behold book provides a mischievous, faux travelogue of a brightly imagined Paris. Columbus Dispatch
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The conceit behind this playful, charming spoof of a book is as simple and bizarre as a Magritte painting: it is a guide to an imaginary Paris, complete with fake hotel listings, off-the-wall travel advice and restaurant recommendations that aim more at literary than culinary edification. In Gordon's Paris, tourists may stop at the Grand Hotel des Echecs, home to a clientele made up of chess lovers and losers ("echecs" means both "chess" and "failures" in French); dine at the Caf Dada, where one inserts food into an Automat and is fed foreign coins in return; or take in a film at the Cinma l'Ange des Sables, which shows only movies shot in the desert. "Ici on parle angoisse" ("Anguish spoken here"), Gordon informs us of one hotel. Admirers of Gordon's previous work, which includes the popular grammar handbook The Transitive Vampire and the novel The Red Shoes and Other Tattered Tales, will not be surprised to find her drawing heavily on the work of such writers as Paul Valry, Guillaume Apollinaire and Raymond Queneau for her wealth of puns, wordplay and double-entendres. This is not a book to read cover to cover, but rather to dip into when the appetite strikes. When the absurdist humor gets too coy or heavy-handed, readers may refresh themselves by studying the surrealist collages and illustrations illuminating every page. Meticulously drawn, finely detailed and brimming with whimsy, they are happily reminiscent of those in Bantock's own Griffin & Sabine books. (Oct.)