Helen Constantine’s “Paris Metro Tales” offers 22 remarkable short stories set throughout Paris—all connected by the underground tunnels of its famed Metro. The journey begins at the Gare du Nord, stops at 20 underground stations along the way, and ends at Lamarck-Caulaincourt, each story corresponding to one of the 20 arrondissements of Paris.
Readers are invited to find their way through the underground, changing trains when necessary and imaginatively emerging to read a story in its original setting. The stories range from the 15th-century account of the miraculous Saint Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, through tales by popular writers such as Zola, Simenon, Balzac, and Maupassant.
Though connected by the metro, the subjects of these short stories vary widely: from Martine Delerm’s gripping narrative of the last hours of Modigliani’s mistress to Gérard de Nerval’s rich evocation of the bustling market in Les Halles in the 1850s, Colette’s unlikely involvement in a traffic accident near the Opéra, and Boulanger’s description of a blackly funny experience in Père Lachaise.
In addition to writers well known to English-speakers, this collection also includes French authors, including Frédéric Fajardie, Martine Delerm, Marie Desplechin, Paul Fournel, and Claude Dufresne. Perfect for connoisseurs of French fiction, and short story enthusiasts, “Paris Metro Tales” offers rare glimpses of the darker side of the “City of Light.”
Helen Constantine reads from her new book of collected stories Monday 14 March 7pm at Shakespeare and Company, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France. Tel: +33 (0)1 43 25 40 93