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With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that h With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans. In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light. Gopnik is a longtime New Yorker writer, and the magazine has sent its writers to Paris for decades--but his was above all a personal pilgrimage to the place that had for so long been the undisputed capital of everything cultural and beautiful. It was also the opportunity to raise a child who would know what it was to romp in the Luxembourg Gardens, to enjoy a croque monsieur in a Left Bank café--a child (and perhaps a father, too) who would have a grasp of that Parisian sense of style we Americans find so elusive. So, in the grand tradition of the American abroad, Gopnik walked the paths of the Tuileries, enjoyed philosophical discussions at his local bistro, wrote as violet twilight fell on the arrondissements. Of course, as readers of Gopnik's beloved and award-winning "Paris Journals" in The New Yorker know, there was also the matter of raising a child and carrying on with day-to-day, not-so-fabled life. Evenings with French intellectuals preceded middle-of-the-night baby feedings; afternoons were filled with trips to the Musée d'Orsay and pinball games; weekday leftovers were eaten while three-star chefs debated a "culinary crisis." As Gopnik describes in this funny and tender book, the dual processes of navigating a foreign city and becoming a parent are not completely dissimilar journeys--both hold new routines, new languages, a new set of rules by which everyday life is lived. With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. "We went to Paris for a sentimental reeducation - I did anyway - even though the sentiments we were instructed in were not the ones we were expecting to learn, which I believe is why they call it an education."


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With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that h With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans. In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light. Gopnik is a longtime New Yorker writer, and the magazine has sent its writers to Paris for decades--but his was above all a personal pilgrimage to the place that had for so long been the undisputed capital of everything cultural and beautiful. It was also the opportunity to raise a child who would know what it was to romp in the Luxembourg Gardens, to enjoy a croque monsieur in a Left Bank café--a child (and perhaps a father, too) who would have a grasp of that Parisian sense of style we Americans find so elusive. So, in the grand tradition of the American abroad, Gopnik walked the paths of the Tuileries, enjoyed philosophical discussions at his local bistro, wrote as violet twilight fell on the arrondissements. Of course, as readers of Gopnik's beloved and award-winning "Paris Journals" in The New Yorker know, there was also the matter of raising a child and carrying on with day-to-day, not-so-fabled life. Evenings with French intellectuals preceded middle-of-the-night baby feedings; afternoons were filled with trips to the Musée d'Orsay and pinball games; weekday leftovers were eaten while three-star chefs debated a "culinary crisis." As Gopnik describes in this funny and tender book, the dual processes of navigating a foreign city and becoming a parent are not completely dissimilar journeys--both hold new routines, new languages, a new set of rules by which everyday life is lived. With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. "We went to Paris for a sentimental reeducation - I did anyway - even though the sentiments we were instructed in were not the ones we were expecting to learn, which I believe is why they call it an education."

30 review for Paris to the Moon

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    I have to be honest. I bought this book because I liked the title. Then I got sucked in by the back cover. Who doesn't think the idea of running away w/ your adult family to Paris wouldn't be fantastic? Gopnik is excellent at revealing the sutle differences between life in the States and France that make up two completely seperate cultures. I felt upon finishing the book that I actually knew the secrets of French thought and behavior. Unfortunately, I now know exactly why I'd never be able to ble I have to be honest. I bought this book because I liked the title. Then I got sucked in by the back cover. Who doesn't think the idea of running away w/ your adult family to Paris wouldn't be fantastic? Gopnik is excellent at revealing the sutle differences between life in the States and France that make up two completely seperate cultures. I felt upon finishing the book that I actually knew the secrets of French thought and behavior. Unfortunately, I now know exactly why I'd never be able to blend in perfectly - my passion for sneakers would sell me out! Entwined with the journalistic entries of his five years in Paris, Gopnik fills the pages with real life and lots of romance that one hopes for in a story about Paris. And not the couplely type of romance, but the kind that makes it possible to fall in love w/ a city. If I ever get to give my two cents in a European Cities and Culture class, I would make this part of the required reading. My favorite quote from the book because it reveals how culture is prominently defined, even in toddlers: Luke, the Gopnik's 4 yr old son, who has only lived in Paris and as such is more French than American and more French than his parents, says the following to his mother upon seeing Santa buying champagne on Christmas Eve while out for last minutes holiday touches w/ his father. "We saw Santa at Hediard. I think he was just getting a little cheap wine for the elves." You could never get even the most precocious American child to say it quite the same way. As if they're worldy and 40 at the age of 4.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (3.5) “When they die, Wilde wrote, all good Americans go to Paris. Some of us have always tried to get there early and beat the crowds.” Gopnik, a Francophile and New Yorker writer, lived in Paris for five years in the late 1990s with his wife and son (and, towards the end of their sojourn, a newborn daughter). Like Julian Barnes’s Something to Declare or Geoff Dyer’s Working the Room, this is a random set of essays arising from the author’s experience and interests. By choosing any subject that (3.5) “When they die, Wilde wrote, all good Americans go to Paris. Some of us have always tried to get there early and beat the crowds.” Gopnik, a Francophile and New Yorker writer, lived in Paris for five years in the late 1990s with his wife and son (and, towards the end of their sojourn, a newborn daughter). Like Julian Barnes’s Something to Declare or Geoff Dyer’s Working the Room, this is a random set of essays arising from the author’s experience and interests. By choosing any subject that took his fancy at the time – whether the World Cup, a Nazi war crimes trial, fashion, or gastronomy – Gopnik gleefully flouts conventions of theme and narrative, yet still manages to convey the trajectory of his years in Paris, generally through his young son Luke’s development, as in “He saw, I realized, exactly the way that after five years I spoke French, which also involved a lot of clinging to the side of the pool and sudden bravura dashes out to the deep end to impress the girls, or listeners.” Gopnik is at his best when writing about food (my favorite of his books is The Table Comes First) and bureaucracy: “The French birth certificate was like the first paragraph of a nineteenth-century novel, with the baby’s parents’ names, their occupations, the years of their births and of their emigration, their residence, and her number, baby number 2365 born in Neuilly in 1999.” It’s interesting to hear about Halloween creeping into France, as it’s also done in the UK. In places, though, this does feel exceptionally dated: relying on a copy shop to do the household bills; David Beckham only being engaged to Posh Spice at the time of a World Cup game. What’s timeless, though, are his insights about the ambivalence of the expatriate experience, which certainly resonated for me: The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped. There are times, as one reads about the uninsured and the armed and the executed, when French anti-Americanism begins to look extremely rational. It is soup, beautiful soup, that I miss more than anything, not French soup, all puréed and homogenized, but American soup, with bits and things, beans and corn and even letters, in it. “We have a beautiful existence in Paris, but not a full life,” Martha said, summing it up, “and in New York we have a full life and an unbeautiful existence.” I must thank my Goodreads friend Ted Schmeckpeper for passing this book along to me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tanya D

    This book was fine, but I didn't particularly enjoy it. I was certainly interested in the subject matter: living in paris, the expat life, culture clashes, etc. But the author's style is rather long-winded and unnecessarily dense; some passages reminded me of esoteric literary criticism I used to have to read in college, not particularly suited to light observational journalism. Perhaps I'm too critical as I just finished a Bill Bryson book of travel essays that were thoroughly entertaining and This book was fine, but I didn't particularly enjoy it. I was certainly interested in the subject matter: living in paris, the expat life, culture clashes, etc. But the author's style is rather long-winded and unnecessarily dense; some passages reminded me of esoteric literary criticism I used to have to read in college, not particularly suited to light observational journalism. Perhaps I'm too critical as I just finished a Bill Bryson book of travel essays that were thoroughly entertaining and often LOL funny. I don't mean to say that I didn't like this book at all or that it was totally uninteresting. It just wasn't much fun. Another thing: Mr. Gopnik often reiterated that New York was really home. He lived in Paris five years, which is certainly long enough think of a place as really home, especially when that's all your child has ever known. So for him to keep reminding us that his real home was in New York and this Paris "experience" was just a temporary experiment, I, as an expat myself, felt this made his "expat" experience seem more like an extended vacation. It's a different mindset when you know that you'll be going back to your "normal" life, home, job, friends after a few years as opposed to leaving nothing behind and having no firm plans to return. I kept wondering if he would have seen and written about Paris differently if he wasn't on a temporary assignment but thought of it as his real, long-term home. Lastly, it felt very dated. So much of his experience was influenced by his job as a journalist, documenting of-the-moment events. Many times, I'd read something that seemed so off, but then I'd remember that he lived in Paris from 1995-2000. It may not seem like things can be so different in only 10-15 years, but they are.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Reid

    I am one of those people (and we are legion) who have an unrequited love affair going with Paris. It's not that Paris disdains or rejects me, of course; Paris has no idea I exist and wouldn't care less if she knew. Sigh. Adam Gopnik's book is one more love letter from another lover of Paris, and his is an articulate, cultured, experienced voice indeed. He is mostly fluent in French and his love affair has stretched over nearly the whole of his life. This is a book written during and after a five I am one of those people (and we are legion) who have an unrequited love affair going with Paris. It's not that Paris disdains or rejects me, of course; Paris has no idea I exist and wouldn't care less if she knew. Sigh. Adam Gopnik's book is one more love letter from another lover of Paris, and his is an articulate, cultured, experienced voice indeed. He is mostly fluent in French and his love affair has stretched over nearly the whole of his life. This is a book written during and after a five year stint of living in Paris full-time with his wife and their young son who, while born in New York, remembers only Paris as his home by the time he is old enough to remember such things. Because of his curious nature and the entree assumed by his status as a reporter for The New Yorker, Gopnik has access to people and things that most of us would be hard-pressed to pull off. So much the better, as the stories he tells are fascinating yet down-to-earth. Not that he spends all of his time in the clouds; much of this book details the challenges of being an American living in Paris, the differences that enthrall and needle, and the little failures of everyday life that are somehow amplified by being in a country other than one's own. If you already have your own affair of the heart going with Paris, or have ever wanted to begin one, this is a great read. If not, you may enjoy it anyway, as Gopnik could likely write a 500-word essay on a turnip and make it interesting. Have fun! Bon appetit!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    The first reason this book was written, I believe, was so the author could impress all us ignorant English speakers with his knowledge of French. Actually, he should have just written this book in French and not annoyed us English speakers at all. The second reason was to greatly impress us with having the most perfect and nauseatingly adorable son ever and to tell us about every minute detail of that adorable son's day-to-day existence! Then, of course, we could all just slap our own children s The first reason this book was written, I believe, was so the author could impress all us ignorant English speakers with his knowledge of French. Actually, he should have just written this book in French and not annoyed us English speakers at all. The second reason was to greatly impress us with having the most perfect and nauseatingly adorable son ever and to tell us about every minute detail of that adorable son's day-to-day existence! Then, of course, we could all just slap our own children silly for being so entirely ordinary in comparison. This book is so pretentious, I had trouble getting through the first few chapters, and once I reached his discussion of the variety of different wall plugs that exist in this world (which went on for PAGES), I'd had enough! Anyone who believes themselves to be so self-important that they can pass off the discussion of different wall plugs as great writing, and believes that THIS is the drivel that keeps the readers turning the pages, needs a severe reality check. He seems to have two tasks here: bragging to the reader how much he knows, and talking about his son. The first is pretentious, difficult to read; the latter is arduous to even skim over, impossible to stomach. With American twits like this in France, no wonder the French hate us. The writing style was also annoying and jumped from one random thought to another. I

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    I can't say enough positive things about this book. Such intricate descriptions of such small things... you can savor it the way the French would want you to. It's a story of a beautiful life in a far away place-- but Gopnick tells it in a way that makes it so accessible (sometimes even ordinary) that he achieves an intimacy that I have not experienced in most books I've read. He also offers a social lens that is stimulating as well as enlightening. I purposefully took forever reading this book I can't say enough positive things about this book. Such intricate descriptions of such small things... you can savor it the way the French would want you to. It's a story of a beautiful life in a far away place-- but Gopnick tells it in a way that makes it so accessible (sometimes even ordinary) that he achieves an intimacy that I have not experienced in most books I've read. He also offers a social lens that is stimulating as well as enlightening. I purposefully took forever reading this book because I didn't want my trip to France to end!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I finished the book faster than I wanted to b/c I just could not stop reading. I have written alot about this previously so I will just try and summarize why one should read this book and why I give it 5 stars. It is intellectually stimulating. i don't always agree with the author's point of view but there is always something to consider in what he is saying. Secondly it doesn't just describe Paris' external beauty but also its inner beauty. Thirdly it gives a very accurate analysis of the Frenc I finished the book faster than I wanted to b/c I just could not stop reading. I have written alot about this previously so I will just try and summarize why one should read this book and why I give it 5 stars. It is intellectually stimulating. i don't always agree with the author's point of view but there is always something to consider in what he is saying. Secondly it doesn't just describe Paris' external beauty but also its inner beauty. Thirdly it gives a very accurate analysis of the French culture often juxtaposed the American culture. Much to ponder. Fourthly, it is terribly amusing to read if the reader has himself emigrated to a land with a "French culture". Finally, if one is going to visit Paris as a tourist, read this to know where to go to see some unusual spots. You will get a lot more out of your trip. Even with my stiffer demands for a five star book, this gets all 5. In the following are all my comments as I read throough the book. So now I have reached page 196 and I am still loving it, but there is so much to think about that really one should read one chapeter at a time and then stop and think so that you really have time to absorb the thoughts. I am reading it too quickly. Each chapter is an essay on a different topic. It is just amazing that I like it so much since I don't like essays or short stories usually! He talks about "haute couture" and French cuisine and even these topics which usually have no interest for me were very, very interesting. His struggles with French keyboards made me laugh. You know the French have changed the position of just a few letters. Just aenough to make typing really a mess until your fingers have been re-educated. I can't imagine this not being a 5 star book - even though I have decided to be REALLY restrictive with 5 stars. There has to be some class for those books that are and will remain amazing months after you have read them. Along with the author, I hate Barney too - read the book and you will know what I am talking about. The similarity between the French in Paris (which actually can be quite different from provincial French behavior) and the French speaking people of Belgium is amazing.. Half of the Belgians speak French and half speak Flemish, and these two cultures are VERY different. Oh, the phrase "C'est normal." is exactly the same here in Belgium. Also body language is identical. If you hear the words - "c'est normal" - BEWARE! Problems are ahead, and there is nothing you can do to alleviate them. The French speaker is saying loud and clear that there is absolutely NOTHING they can do to help you out from the problem that could very well occur. They are NOT responsible, it is the way of life. You hear it many times a day. There is so much in this book that captures the French way of looking at life, experiencing life. From my point of view, I like alot of it although some bits are infuriating. OMG, the bit about sports centers really made me laugh. I have had very similar experiences. And yes lotions are expunded as the ultimate answer to weight loss, not exercise. Every pharmacy advertises them. Christmas tree lights, girlander, yup, they are not strings but circles. This makes putting them on the tree so difficult. But this is the same everywhere in Europe, Sweden too! If you are born a Swede, you know how to deal with it. To an American it is the most idiotic system ever thought up. There is no way an American and a European will see eye to eye on this. I could go on and on, but if you want to see life from another perspective, read this book. If you are born in the US but have moved to a "French culture" you will laugh and laugh and laugh. I am on page 110 now, but GoodReads' "status box" is gone...... Anyhow you are allowed more space to write here than in the teeny status comment boxes. Back to the book. This is a good author - he writes for the New Yorker. Some people might be put off, but I love it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    There's some valuable stuff in this book, but mostly it's a lot of New-Yorker-house-style pseudo-profundity from a writer who's not particularly aware of his own privilege.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This book is actually a collection of essays from the New Yorker, and they're very insightful. His arguments mostly stem from his own family's experiences and are naturally just small scenes from which he draws grand conclusions. Like most other authors. However, his awareness of the political scene and the major infighting going on culturally speaks of a very sharp mind. His essays have enough political analysis to show his intelligence, but then will transition into a colorful story about his s This book is actually a collection of essays from the New Yorker, and they're very insightful. His arguments mostly stem from his own family's experiences and are naturally just small scenes from which he draws grand conclusions. Like most other authors. However, his awareness of the political scene and the major infighting going on culturally speaks of a very sharp mind. His essays have enough political analysis to show his intelligence, but then will transition into a colorful story about his son. One essay is about Adam Gopnik and his wife's attempts to keep Barney out of his son's life, and it's absurd, but it makes its point. In other words, a lot of it is fanciful, but in a charming almost fin de siecle style that I just adore. If you know anything about French culture, you'll laugh many times. :)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cayt O'Neal

    One of my very favorite reads of all time. Adam Gopnik has a lovely way with words, specifically words that detail everyday, real life. I have found very few writers who have such power to keep me enthralled no matter what the subject matter. I had the privilege of hearing him lecture a few years back here in Chicago, his topic "The American Dream of Paris." His eloquence astounds me. Hearing him speak only made me wish I could read the book over and over again and forget it each time, so that I One of my very favorite reads of all time. Adam Gopnik has a lovely way with words, specifically words that detail everyday, real life. I have found very few writers who have such power to keep me enthralled no matter what the subject matter. I had the privilege of hearing him lecture a few years back here in Chicago, his topic "The American Dream of Paris." His eloquence astounds me. Hearing him speak only made me wish I could read the book over and over again and forget it each time, so that I would once again have the pleasure of that first read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    A fun book that gives you a sense of living in Paris as an expat and what to appreciate about French culture. Narrated by the author so definitely recommend listening. Great read while on vacation in France. I loved many of the annecdotes were hilarious - eg the one about how the gym had no plan for visiting every day they only had a once a week plan. Or the one comparing the French fax error codes to French culture.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Christensen

    I wanted to like it -an expat living in Paris raising his first child but ugh. Esoteric literary snobbery. Long winded. Exhausting. I skimmed a bunch.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    My husband and I decided to be appropriately literary on our last trip to Paris -- he took Hemingway, I took this book because I love travel memoirs. The basic premise is that Gopnik, a writer for the New Yorker, flees to Paris with his family to save his young firstborn from the insidious influence of Barney the dinosaur. It's well written, more complicated sentence structure than my usual vacation reading but engrossing. It travels an arc beginning with successfully conveying his naivete about My husband and I decided to be appropriately literary on our last trip to Paris -- he took Hemingway, I took this book because I love travel memoirs. The basic premise is that Gopnik, a writer for the New Yorker, flees to Paris with his family to save his young firstborn from the insidious influence of Barney the dinosaur. It's well written, more complicated sentence structure than my usual vacation reading but engrossing. It travels an arc beginning with successfully conveying his naivete about the French and ending with his acknowledgement that he now understands very little about the French but more than when he started. It was a lovely accompaniment to a trip in which I think we learned a teeny bit more about the French, or at least about their obsession with reservations for lunch. It would also be a different, more sophisticated choice for an armchair traveller.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A very uneven book - some essays are excellent, heartfelt, incisive, clever - others are smug, condescending, boring - the book does not ultimately come together as a unified whole. And, in the end, I just don't entirely trust Gopnik - in some of his other New Yorker essays when he touches on subjects about which I have some in-depth knowledge (such as C.S. Lewis, Christianity etc.), I often find he leaps to unwarranted and seemingly pre-determined conclusions - and so I am skeptical (perhaps un A very uneven book - some essays are excellent, heartfelt, incisive, clever - others are smug, condescending, boring - the book does not ultimately come together as a unified whole. And, in the end, I just don't entirely trust Gopnik - in some of his other New Yorker essays when he touches on subjects about which I have some in-depth knowledge (such as C.S. Lewis, Christianity etc.), I often find he leaps to unwarranted and seemingly pre-determined conclusions - and so I am skeptical (perhaps unfairly so) of some of his judgments and evaluations in Paris to the Moon.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cristin Curry

    Adam Gopnik's memoirs of his times spent in Paris is a Sex and the City for grown ups. Seen through a male perspective, Gopnik's Frasier-like love of France, the arts, fine food and wine and a hatred for cheesy American pop culture (AKA Barney) allows anyone who's ever dreamed of dropping everything and leaving for a more romantic lifestyle the ability to do so vicariously through his family. What's refreshing about Gopnik's writing is that he realizes he's living a ridiculously privileged life Adam Gopnik's memoirs of his times spent in Paris is a Sex and the City for grown ups. Seen through a male perspective, Gopnik's Frasier-like love of France, the arts, fine food and wine and a hatred for cheesy American pop culture (AKA Barney) allows anyone who's ever dreamed of dropping everything and leaving for a more romantic lifestyle the ability to do so vicariously through his family. What's refreshing about Gopnik's writing is that he realizes he's living a ridiculously privileged life where his only problem is keeping his favorite restaurant safe from being taken over by a mass corporation of restaurant buyers. What keeps him grounded is knowing that he can't live this lifestyle forever and must return to NY after five years and get back to the real world. Paris to the Moon brings the reader into the lives of the Gopniks as you experience their everyday Parisian lifestyle and their fantasy lives by visiting them at Christmas time in French department stores, summertime swimming at the Ritz pool club, mingling at Parisian fashion shows, playing pinball at the local cafe, and riding the carousel at the Luxembourg Gardens. I loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to get away from it all and slip into a snobby fantasy without losing yourself completely.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Enjoyed this more and more as it went on. I've always like Gopnik, but early in this book, he seems overly fixated on sounding clever, which is unnecessary—he's naturally clever. As the book progresses, his tone is more relaxed and funny. Also, it begins as a series of (fairly disjointed) essays, but knits together nicely later when he spends more time on his family and personal experiences in Paris.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I loved this book when I first read it about ten years ago. This time, not only was I murmuring, "Oh, lucky ducks, this family is in Paris," but I was also gushing, "Yes, yes, I went there, too!"

  18. 5 out of 5

    Val

    An utterly boring scope of minute differences between New York and Paris life. A definite sleeper, unless you consider this author's writing to be witty, which I did not.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rodney

    Contrary to some of the other reviews on this site, I found the stories about raising a child to be the most interesting, how mundane experiences create a portrait of a culture. Perhaps because my own life is defined by long hours alone with a toddler, these seemed most relevant to me. The uppercrusty stories were a little more grating; two essays, some 10% of the whole book, are about a group of people so offended by the new management at a classic brasserie that they form a secret society to p Contrary to some of the other reviews on this site, I found the stories about raising a child to be the most interesting, how mundane experiences create a portrait of a culture. Perhaps because my own life is defined by long hours alone with a toddler, these seemed most relevant to me. The uppercrusty stories were a little more grating; two essays, some 10% of the whole book, are about a group of people so offended by the new management at a classic brasserie that they form a secret society to protest and subvert the new owner's business plan. Perhaps I'm just too American for this to make any sense to me at all. I was also not at all on board with the essay in which he ruins a dinner he cooks for a famous chef. However, his description of her reaction was one of my favorite quips of the whole book: Martina Hingis would not notice your backhand is off because Martina Hingis would not notice when your backhand is on. What you have is not what she would call a backhand. Gopnik has so many great quips throughout the book, in fact, that even the essays I enjoyed least are entertaining. A great quick read, with more serious insight than I expected. Recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan Wands

    What a priviledged crank. His recent column in the New Yorker about eating locally makes me glad that he is aware of the effects of the world around him but he doesn't seem to appreciate so much of what he has. He was involvement in the bistro takeover and the gym were the highlights of the book, with his difference as the American, but really were these the only times he actually did anything in Paris, other than go to the carousel with son and eat out? I want the New Yorker to sponsor me to li What a priviledged crank. His recent column in the New Yorker about eating locally makes me glad that he is aware of the effects of the world around him but he doesn't seem to appreciate so much of what he has. He was involvement in the bistro takeover and the gym were the highlights of the book, with his difference as the American, but really were these the only times he actually did anything in Paris, other than go to the carousel with son and eat out? I want the New Yorker to sponsor me to live in Florence for five years! I would probably enjoy meeting him as he is very entertaining but he's a lot of work.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Gopnik spent five years living in Paris with his wife and his small son, writing articles for the New Yorker on life in Paris; this book collects many of those articles along with some of Gopnik's personal journals from that period. I found Paris to the Moon finely written and frequently witty, and I quite liked the mix of personal reminiscence and social and cultural commentary. Though I can see how those expecting a book about Paris might find that there's too much of the former, I thought it Gopnik spent five years living in Paris with his wife and his small son, writing articles for the New Yorker on life in Paris; this book collects many of those articles along with some of Gopnik's personal journals from that period. I found Paris to the Moon finely written and frequently witty, and I quite liked the mix of personal reminiscence and social and cultural commentary. Though I can see how those expecting a book about Paris might find that there's too much of the former, I thought it was nicely balanced.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    I really liked reading this book. Gopnik is a wonderful writer, he still writes frequently for The New Yorker, and is always worth reading. Mostly the chapters could be read at random. There is a progression in them as his son Luke ages from one year old to six (1995-2000), and thus grew from a toddler to a youngster in Paris (there were a few visits back to the States). In some chapters Gopnik's family, especially his son, play major roles (see particularly the delightful chapter The Rookie). In I really liked reading this book. Gopnik is a wonderful writer, he still writes frequently for The New Yorker, and is always worth reading. Mostly the chapters could be read at random. There is a progression in them as his son Luke ages from one year old to six (1995-2000), and thus grew from a toddler to a youngster in Paris (there were a few visits back to the States). In some chapters Gopnik's family, especially his son, play major roles (see particularly the delightful chapter The Rookie). In most their role is minor or almost non-existent. Some of the incidents and episodes are hilarious. Two I remember are the adventures he has in signing up for a gym membership, and his description of the Bibliotheque Nationale, where Gopnik actually wanted to do research, as well as just look around. The former deserves an extended quote (from the chapter The Rules of the Sport). Gopnik at first has no luck at all finding anything like the gyms Americans frequent. Finally, someone suggested a newly opening "New York-style" gym, which I'll call the Regiment Rouge ... One afternoon Martha and I walked over ... At the top of a grand opera-style staircase ... were three or four fabulously chic young women in red tracksuits - the Regiment Rouge! - that still managed to be fairly form-clinging. The women all had ravishing long hair and lightly applied makeup. When we told them we wanted to abonner - subscribe - one of them whisked us off to her office ... (she told us) they had organized a special "high intensity" program in which ... you could visit the gym as often as once a week. ... though she had a million arguments ready for people who thought that when it came to forme, once a week might be going overboard, she had nothing at all ready for people who thought once a week might not be forme enough ... (we told her that) some New Yorkers ... arranged to go to their health club every morning before work. She echoed this cautiously ... They rise from their beds and exercise vigorously before breakfast? Yes, we said weakly. That must be a wearing regimen, she commented politely. ... then she said wonderingly, "Ah, you mean you wish to abonner for an infinite number of visits?" ... she arrived at a price for an infinity of forme ... She opened dossiers for both of us; you can't do anything in France without a dossier opened on your behalf. ... A few days later I went back again to try to use the gym, but ... I was stopped by another of the girls in red tracksuits ... it was necessary that one have a rendezvous with a professeur. When I arrived the next day for my rendezvous, the professeur - another girl in a red tracksuit - was waiting for me ... "Aren't we going to demonstrate the system of the machines?" I asked. "Ah, that is for the future. This is the oral part of the rendezvous, where we review your body and its desires," she said. If I blushed, she certainly didn't. (The equally funny description of the Bibliotheque appears in the chapter Lessons From Things.) This is really a must-read if you, an American, find yourself posted to Paris (or elsewhere in France) for an extended period of time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    On the cover of Paris to the Moon, Alain de Botton lauds the work as "the finest book on France in recent years," but of course he can't say why in the space of that sentence. Paris to the Moon may be the finest expatriate book of recent years, and it's a worthy update of the American-moves-to-Paris trope of which Hemingway makes up the cornerstone. Adam Gopnik is a writer's writer, and a thinker's writer. Every inch of this book betrays careful attention to detail, editorial prowess, and the cal On the cover of Paris to the Moon, Alain de Botton lauds the work as "the finest book on France in recent years," but of course he can't say why in the space of that sentence. Paris to the Moon may be the finest expatriate book of recent years, and it's a worthy update of the American-moves-to-Paris trope of which Hemingway makes up the cornerstone. Adam Gopnik is a writer's writer, and a thinker's writer. Every inch of this book betrays careful attention to detail, editorial prowess, and the calculated pacing of a writer who knows what it's like to read a beautifully told story. Best of all are the observations. It's funny that de Botton's review is on the front page, because as a (Swiss? Switzerman? - a man from Switzerland), he's not exactly in the innate position to judge a narrative based almost entirely on the idea of a North American transplant to France. The meatiest parts of the book (and to my mind, the best) are the areas in which he attempts to explicate and label the vague sense of "foreign-ness" the French feel for Americans and the Americans feel for the French. He notes that each country has some sort of cultural affinity blended with animosity for the other, but that the basis for these contrasting sentiments is rather unclear. That's where Gopnik shines - pinning down the myriad ways in which issues which could face us all are handled differently by each culture. Take, for example, the hilarious bit about the magazine fact-checker. The French interviewees in the story are mystified and somewhat aghast that a publication should check their facts. Gopnik hits on the realization that to the French, facts are what theories are to Americans - imagine, if you will, a "theory checker" following up on interview subjects in the US. If the French are surprised at being held to the letter of their factual assertions, Americans would be equally surprised to be held to the logic of their theories. That's just one example of careful surveying and exploration of cultural differences between our two nations. I picked up this book as a new parent expecting to hear an awful lot about raising a small child in a foreign land, but enjoyed it as a reader and student of history, because the place figures in this book far more than the characters.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Campbell

    "After all, spinning is its own reward. There wouldn't be carousels if it weren't so." "And the slightly amused, removed feeling always breaks down as you realize that you don't want to be so lofty and Olympian- or rather, that being lofty and Olympian carries within it, by tradition and precedent, the habit of wishing you could be down there in the plain, taking sides. Even the gods, actually looking down from Olympus in amusement, kept hurtling down to get laid or slug somebody." "It is just "After all, spinning is its own reward. There wouldn't be carousels if it weren't so." "And the slightly amused, removed feeling always breaks down as you realize that you don't want to be so lofty and Olympian- or rather, that being lofty and Olympian carries within it, by tradition and precedent, the habit of wishing you could be down there in the plain, taking sides. Even the gods, actually looking down from Olympus in amusement, kept hurtling down to get laid or slug somebody." "It is just fun. Fun is the magic American word (Our motto 'Let's have fun!' is met by the French motto 'Let's be amused!')" "It is as if we were wishing that the rituals of sex, those moments of painful sizing up, which begin with the thought That's a nice dress, could pass by more consequentially, slowly- love walking down a runway instead of just meeting you outside the movie theater." "There is, I believe now, a force in stories, words in motion, that either drives them forward past things into feelings or doesn't. Sometimes the words fly right over the fence and all the way out to the feelings." "Loss, like distance, gives permission for romance. In a better-ordered Verona, Romeo and Juliet would have grown up to be just another couple at dinner." "...I could sense that a bond, a romance had begun between Luke and Cressida, in the simple sense that the unstated had emerged from the informal. I recognized the signs: It lay not in their having fun together but in their not needing to have fun together..." "He was struggling with the oldest romantic-erotic question. Was there more pleasure to be found in sharing Cressida's company or in feeling the power that he held by making her suffer from his absence? More pleasure to be found in sharing joy or in denying joy, in knowing that he now possessed the power to make her miserable, change her entire emotional state, simply by not being there?"

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    My sister lived in Paris for a few months with her husband and four children. She used to tell me stories about their lives there that illuminated for me both the differences between my and Parisian culture and the beauty that she encountered there every day. I expected this book about Adam Gopnik's experiences in Paris to be similar except, well better. I mean this was a collection of carefully thought out articles written by a professional (and well respected) writer not the ecstatic ramblings My sister lived in Paris for a few months with her husband and four children. She used to tell me stories about their lives there that illuminated for me both the differences between my and Parisian culture and the beauty that she encountered there every day. I expected this book about Adam Gopnik's experiences in Paris to be similar except, well better. I mean this was a collection of carefully thought out articles written by a professional (and well respected) writer not the ecstatic ramblings of an exhausted woman on a telephone. Turns out I was wrong. Perhaps Canada and France are more similar than are Canada and the States because where my sister was able to illustrate for me the cultural differences, the stories that Gopnik relates, to the same end, just left me shrugging my shoulders (hmmm, that is French isn’t it?). Just about all of his ‘this could only happen in France stories' happen to me regularly. To make matters worse I just didn’t find his style at all engaging and except for a couple of the chapters the content failed to hold my interest either. I might have enjoyed them more as separate articles – as a book I found it disjointed. It just didn’t hang together for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    i don't even know where to begin, there are so many infuriating moments in this book. maybe i am biased having lived in paris for three years myself, but gopnik's paris is no paris i know. despite frequently catagorizing himself and his experience in paris as middle class, the very fact that he lives near the boulevard st germain disqualifies him. add to that his hobnobbing with 'fashionable' people and expensive brunches and you have what amounts to a series of cliché-affirming assumptions abou i don't even know where to begin, there are so many infuriating moments in this book. maybe i am biased having lived in paris for three years myself, but gopnik's paris is no paris i know. despite frequently catagorizing himself and his experience in paris as middle class, the very fact that he lives near the boulevard st germain disqualifies him. add to that his hobnobbing with 'fashionable' people and expensive brunches and you have what amounts to a series of cliché-affirming assumptions about paris based on a new yorker's sentimentality. what really infuriates me is his ability to botch a very intelligent observation about paris administrative life with a horrible metaphor involving an american figure like tom delay or kenneth starr. he knows a great deal about political machinations and i'm sure he's very astute when it comes to developing essays for the new yorker, but in this context his observations seem irrelevant and smack of navel gazing . i would hardly classify this as 'the finest book on paris in recent years' as a new york times book reviewer did.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shauna

    After three weeks of slogging through this book, my first thought upon finishing it was I'm free. The writing is pretentious and the sentences go on for forever. Sometimes a carousel is just a carousel and there is no need to wax poetically about what it symbolizes for all of mankind. This book had its moments. Having been in Paris recently, it was nice to read a little more about the city I'd just visited. I liked reading about the author's experience joining a gym, about the restaurant rebellion After three weeks of slogging through this book, my first thought upon finishing it was I'm free. The writing is pretentious and the sentences go on for forever. Sometimes a carousel is just a carousel and there is no need to wax poetically about what it symbolizes for all of mankind. This book had its moments. Having been in Paris recently, it was nice to read a little more about the city I'd just visited. I liked reading about the author's experience joining a gym, about the restaurant rebellion he took part in, about their experience having a baby in Paris. There were also some genuinely funny moments. It just wasn't enough--nothing will be enough--to make up for the endless, pretentious, philosophical ramblings. Never again!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I love, love, love adam gopnik's writing. he can write about tying his shoes and make it sound like the most fascinating subject on earth. this book is about his experience living in paris with his family, a city near and dear to my heart. paris is the perfect subject for his writerly observations. the chapter where he describes his wife's pregnancy and the interactions with the french medical system in contrast to new york (where they had their first child) is fascinating, hilarious and incredi I love, love, love adam gopnik's writing. he can write about tying his shoes and make it sound like the most fascinating subject on earth. this book is about his experience living in paris with his family, a city near and dear to my heart. paris is the perfect subject for his writerly observations. the chapter where he describes his wife's pregnancy and the interactions with the french medical system in contrast to new york (where they had their first child) is fascinating, hilarious and incredibly touching all at once. if i could only have one book to read over and over again it would probably be this one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I'm re-reading this love letter to Paris, a collection of essays by Adam Gopnik. He writes with such fierce intelligence, and even though some of the "current events" are ten years old, his perspective has a timelessness. Never mind that he's lived my dream- pack it all in and go live and work in Paris. One of my favorite elements of the book is how strongly the feeling he has for his family permeates his writing. Even an essay on a quest to save a beloved neighborhood bistro is tinged with the w I'm re-reading this love letter to Paris, a collection of essays by Adam Gopnik. He writes with such fierce intelligence, and even though some of the "current events" are ten years old, his perspective has a timelessness. Never mind that he's lived my dream- pack it all in and go live and work in Paris. One of my favorite elements of the book is how strongly the feeling he has for his family permeates his writing. Even an essay on a quest to save a beloved neighborhood bistro is tinged with the wonder he feels at being a dad and the protectiveness over the blissful little cloister he and his wife create for their family as Americans Abroad. I just love this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    Yes, I realize this is getting cliche, but I am putting this book in my category of "Americans abroad." Even though I don't connect to the "isn't raising kids just a gosh darn trip" facet of this book, I think Gopnik is a fantastic writer and his observations about living in Paris and being American ring very true. What's also interesting is that because this book concerns the years 1995 to 2000 (that is Pre-Euro as the currency, Pre-Sarkozy) it is very interesting to see how much France has cha Yes, I realize this is getting cliche, but I am putting this book in my category of "Americans abroad." Even though I don't connect to the "isn't raising kids just a gosh darn trip" facet of this book, I think Gopnik is a fantastic writer and his observations about living in Paris and being American ring very true. What's also interesting is that because this book concerns the years 1995 to 2000 (that is Pre-Euro as the currency, Pre-Sarkozy) it is very interesting to see how much France has changed, especially the government rhetoric and policies surrounding organized labor and social security.

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