Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French
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Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French

3.7 11
by Stephen Clarke
     
 

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Have you ever walked into a half-empty Parisian restaurant, only to be told that it's "complet"? Attempted to say "merci beaucoup" and accidentally complimented someone's physique? Been overlooked at the boulangerie due to your adherence to the bizarre foreign custom of waiting in line? Well, you're not alone. The internationally bestselling author of A Year in the

Overview

Have you ever walked into a half-empty Parisian restaurant, only to be told that it's "complet"? Attempted to say "merci beaucoup" and accidentally complimented someone's physique? Been overlooked at the boulangerie due to your adherence to the bizarre foreign custom of waiting in line? Well, you're not alone. The internationally bestselling author of A Year in the Merde and In the Merde for Love has been there too, and he is here to help. In Talk to the Snail, Stephen Clarke distills the fruits of years spent in the French trenches into a truly handy (and hilarious) book of advice. Read this book, and find out how to get good service from the grumpiest waiter; be exquisitely polite and brutally rude at the same time; and employ the language of l'amour and le sexe. Everything you need is here in this funny, informative, and seriously useful guide to getting what you really want from the French.
Stephen Clarke is a British journalist and the internationally bestselling author of A Year in the Merde and In the Merde for Love, which describe the misadventures of Paul West in France. He himself has lived in France for twelve years.
Praise for A Year on the Merde: "Clarke renders the flavor of life in Paris impeccably: the endless strikes, the sadistic receptionists, the crooked schemes by which the wealthy and well-connected land low-rent apartments...Clarke's eye for detail is terrific."-Washington Post "Call him the anti-Mayle. Stephen Clarke is acerbic, insulting, un-PC and mostly hilarious."-San Francisco Chronicle "Combines the gaffes of Bridget Jones with the boldness of James Bond...Clarke's sharp eye for detail and relentless wit make even the most quotidian task seem surreal."-Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Clarke renders the flavor of life in Paris impeccably: the endless strikes, the sadistic receptionists, the crooked schemes by which the wealthy and well-connected land low-rent apartments…Clarke's eye for detail is terrific.” —Washington Post

“Call him the anti-Mayle. Stephen Clarke is acerbic, insulting, un-PC and mostly hilarious.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Combines the gaffes of Bridget Jones with the boldness of James Bond…Clarke's sharp eye for detail and relentless wit make even the most quotidian task seem surreal.” —Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
In Clarke's newest nonfiction on the French and francophiles (after A Year in the Merde), he offers actually 11 witty commandments for understanding the French. He tackles the stereotypical experiences tourists encounter, explaining why French waiters always ignore you, why everyone's always on strike or why Frenchmen are never wrong about anything. He explains the customs: how to decide when to kiss versus when to handshake, how to romance a French woman or how to be cuttingly rude while seeming polite, and how mispronouncing certain words (the noun "un baiser" means "to kiss"; the verb, "to screw") can get you in trouble (other expressions, like "je t'aime," can't be said often enough). Within Clarke's humorous anecdotes lie grains of seriousness. Why, for example, do the French constantly correct everyone's attempts to speak their language if they also want it to be accepted as a global language? And is it not significant that the French term for bedding someone, "conclure," translates as "to conclude"? In the end, this is an entertaining bon voyage present for anyone heading to France. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

With a multitude of books about French culture on the market, is there a need for another? Clarke (A Year in the Merde, In the Merde for Love) evidently thinks so, and indeed he manages to add something new to the genre. The book presents a list of ten commandments (actually 11) for dealing with the French, illustrated by witty anecdotes and snarky opinions that betray the British author's love-hate relationship with his country of residence (Clarke lives in Paris). This book has something for everyone: tips on dining etiquette for the casual traveler, business negotiation advice, and help for the home buyer. A potentially handy list of phrases accompanies each chapter, although readers should be wary of the pronunciation guides, which seem primarily designed to make fun of the French language or of foreign attempts to speak it. Using these guides could result in the very misunderstandings Clarke describes in the rest of the book. For large public libraries where books about French culture circulate well.
—Heidi Senior

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596913097
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
12/26/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
879,959
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.15(h) x 0.97(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Clarke is a British journalist and the internationally bestselling author of A Year in the Merde and In the Merde for Love, which describe the misadventures of Paul West in France. He himself has lived in France for twelve years.

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Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
AFineFoodie More than 1 year ago
Stephen Clarke can be very funny, yet this book strikes me as having something more than humor. The French, especially Parisians, can easily mystify the foreigner, and this book is a good example of being forearmed by being forewarned. Things that have baffled me about the French psyche are presented in a delightful way, yet the subtext is not humor at all: it's a fine attempt to help one move gracefully among the people of France. I recommend this book as a gift for anyone traveling to France- even if it's you yourself. I only wish I'd had the book a decade ago.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
As an American student living in the south-of-France/Monaco, I wanted to know just exactly why the French act they way do without ever questioning them personally. Mr. Clarke does an excellent job with this book by giving VERY REAL examples of how the French act, think, and conduct themselves, all while giving humorous personal experiences. This book is a MUST for anyone who will be visiting France!
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Talk to The Snail by Stephen Clarke After reading Mr. Clarke's A Year in the Merdre, I decided to read Talk to the Snail. What a disappointment! In this book, the writer spells out commandments on how to survive in France: 1. The French are always right, and they have a complex that the rest of the world is out to get them 2. The French are lazy, they can't be fired - but can be productive 3. The French love their food 4. The French love to be sick 5. You must speak French 6. The French can't make movies or songs 7. In France things are on a "need to know" basis 8. The French only care about themselves 9. Tips for getting service 10. The french have the nicest way to be rude 11. The French have to say "I love you" Unlike the funny and amusing A Year in the Merdre, which is meant for tourists visiting France, Talk to the snail is directed more towards ex-pats who live in France. The book is boring, poorly written, not entirely correct, and a waste of time. Being Latin, it felt like an American telling me how to speak Spanish - including a lesson in pronunciation, and how to behave in my native country - Puerto Rico. Don't buy the book or waste your time reading it.
Cheddah More than 1 year ago
I love France and have some wonderful friends there. That being said I have to comment that some things the French do or think defy non-French logic and begs for a little satire. This book provides that with tongue in cheek good humor. If you have been to France you might find this good for a laugh. If you are going there consider it as a good-natured book of suggestions on how to cope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is wonderful and his observations are quite good. I agree with much in the book- and I am French (but live in the US). I have found that the nook edition does not copy/show all the character c cedilla shows up as a g and there are other errors in the text. Overall a great read that had me wishing I were there.