In his Beat-like jaunt through the Parisian and European jazz scene, Mike Zwerin is not unlike Jack Kerouac, Mezz Mezzrow, or Hunter S. Thompson – writers to whom, for different reasons, he owes some allegiance. What makes him special is his devotion to the troubled musicians he idolizes, and a passion for music that is blessedly contagious. Many jazz fans will be familiar with Zwerin’s witty, irreverent and undeniably hip music reviews and articles published in the International Herald Tribune that have entertained us for decades. Based in Paris, or, rather, “stuck” there, as he likes to say, Mike Zwerin who’s been a music critic for the Trib since 1979, also had a distinguished career as a trombonist. When he was just 18 years old, he was invited by Miles Davis to play alongside Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, and Max Roach in the band that was immortalized as “The Birth of the Cool.” “The Parisian Jazz Chronicles” constitute an engaging personal account of the jazz scene in Paris in the 1980s and 1990s. Zwerin writes lovingly but unsparingly about figures he knew and interviewed – such as Dexter Gordon, Freddy Heineken, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Chet Baker, Wayne Shorter, and Melvin Van Peebles. Against this background, he speaks of further allegiances (split between journalism and music, America and France…), while recounting his own life peopled by personal battles (a solitary struggle for sobriety, a failing marriage, and fatherhood…).
In her beautiful new novel, “The Radiant City,” Canadian writer Lauren B. Davis evokes a Paris that is decidedly on the edge, a city in which everyone has come from somewhere else and is trying desperately to lose themselves. Continue reading “Lauren B. Davis’ “Radiant City””
In “Into A Paris Quartier,” Diane Johnson explores St-Germain-des-Prés, that most touristic of Paris neighborhoods, and tries to do it justice. Part of National Geographic’s Literaty Travel series, which challenges authors to write guidebooks to the areas that inspire their fiction, Continue reading “Into A Paris Quartier”
“The Accidental Connoisseur,” journalist Lawrence Osborne asks himself the question what is taste and, as a British-born New Yorker, does he really trust his own? With this in mind, he embarks on a wine tasting journey throughout Europe and California as the ultimate exercise in testing his taste buds. Continue reading “The Accidental Connoisseur”
This is a collection of essays dedicated to Paris’ most written about expat. Over the past 25 years, Jim Haynes has become famous for his Sunday night dinners, a modern-day take on the “salon” concept where artists, writers and intellectuals mingle over a plate of hot food and a glass of wine. Culture has always been central to Haynes’ life and since leaving the United States in the 1950s, he has, among other things, started the Traverse Theatre, participated in creating the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, launched several magazines and been awarded the Whitbread prize. These essays, written by friends and colleagues, capture perfectly his way of life and involvement in the arts as well as his love of people and gift for friendship. In addition to the essays, the book also includes a selection of personal photographs, drawings and letters documenting Haynes unusual existence. Reviewed by Alice Quillet
When the long days of summer lure you out of your lair, what’s to do? Or – Yikes! Aunt Zelda and Uncle Austen are coming. For two whole weeks? If either sounds like your situation, don’t fall into the ho-hum, same-old, same-old Paris syndrome that can infect frequent visitors and those of us who live here year’round. Continue reading “Around and About Paris”
Winnie Denker is afraid of heights. Yet she has spent the best part of the last 20 years taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower, precariously balancing herself and 60 kilos-worth of large format camera on the tower’s various extremities. Continue reading “A Towering Love Affair”
It is fitting that Kyle Jarrard’s new book, “Cognac,” starts by summarizing millions of years of tectonic shifts and geological systems. After all, when you are as passionate about the subject as he is, cognac is an entire world of its own with a story as old as the earth istelf. Continue reading “The Seductive Saga of Cognac”
Steamy French memoir goes global One of the most talked-about women in France last year was Catherine M. And, the subject she talked most about was… sex. Catherine M. seduced French readers with graphic descriptions of sexual escapades in Paris swingers’ clubs, on hoods of cars parked in the Bois de Boulogne, in staircase landings and on office desks. Continue reading “The Sexual Life of Catherine M.”
A scintillating tale of derring-do set in France’s distant colonial past, written by, wait for it…a Frenchman. It’s the kind of swashbuckling entertainment that would send an existentialist like Sartre spinning in his grave.
Continue reading “Jean-Christophe Rufin’s “Globalia””
Navigating the highs and lows of Parisian life. Sarah Turnbull Despite having failed French in her first year at university, Sarah Turnbull moved to this country from Sydney in the mid-’90s after falling in love with a “very French Frenchman.” Her new book, “Almost French,” recounts the charming, true story of a young Australian’s odyssey, “navigating” the highs and lows of Parisian life.
Continue reading “Sarah Turnbull “Almost French””