Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times , invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street, offering an homage to street life and the pleasures of Parisian living. I can never be sad on the rue des Martyrs, Sciolino explains, as she celebrates the neighborhood s rich history and vibrant lives.Read more...
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Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times, invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street, offering an homage to street life and the pleasures of Parisian living. I can never be sad on the rue des Martyrs, Sciolino explains, as she celebrates the neighborhood s rich history and vibrant lives. While many cities suffer from the leveling effects of globalization, the rue des Martyrs maintains its distinct allure. On this street, the patron saint of France was beheaded and the Jesuits took their first vows. It was here that Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted circus acrobats, Emile Zola situated a lesbian dinner club in his novel Nana, and Francois Truffaut filmed scenes from The 400 Blows. Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who s been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore, the woman who repairs eighteenth-century mercury barometers bringing Paris alive in all of its unique majesty. The Only Street in Paris will make readers hungry for Paris, for cheese and wine, and for the kind of street life that is all too quickly disappearing."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-08-24
- Reviewer: Staff
Sciolino (La Seduction), an American-born writer who now lives in Paris, takes readers for a cultural and historical stroll along her adopted city’s venerable rue des Martyrs in this warmhearted, well-researched gem. The street, located in the vibrant ninth arrondissement, is largely untouched by progress, and the greengrocer, cheese shop, butcher, baker and other old-time merchants feel quaint; there is a cart-pushing knife sharpener and a mender of antique barometers. Famed transvestite performance nightspot Cabaret Michou, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette church, and the Grand Synagogue of Paris are long-lived neighborhood landmarks. Historically, the neighborhood was host to Thomas Jefferson, Emile Zola, and bohemian artists, musicians, writers, and critics; Sciolino occasionally feels their ghostly reappearance. “For me, it is the last real street in Paris, a half-mile celebration of the city in all its diversity,” she writes, adding, “This street represents what is left of the intimate, human side of Paris.” Sciolino, a seasoned journalist and former Paris bureau chief for the New York Times, also addresses contemporary culture such as France’s rising anti-Semitism, recounting the terrorist attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in January 2015, after which the street’s merchants placed “Je suis Charlie” signs in their windows. Readers will appreciate her mixture of the tenacity of journalism and a warm memoir-like quality. Agent: Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Agency. (Nov.)