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When Paris Comes Alive

When Paris Comes Alive

I recently read an article by Olivia Snaije, stating that Paris would prefer the hashtag #ParisIsAboutLife over #PrayForParis. The article also included a cartoon drawing that read, “Our faith goes to music! Kisses! Life! Champagne and Joy!” Parisians appreciate fine wine, happiness and culture and want to keep doing so—even in the worst of times. In honor of Paris, as an act of solidarity, we can start by celebrating their unique vibe and daily lives in the novel The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino.

On Monday (11/30), Sciolino will lead a thought-proving discussion at The Larkin Square Author Series, located at the Filling Station, 745 Seneca Street. A Buffalo native, she will discuss the way in which she brought her culture to a small street in Paris as described in her new novel.

Sciolino, living in France since 2002, is a writer and former Paris Bureau Chief for The New York Times. She writes the “Letter from France” column for the The New York Times “T Magazine.” Her first book, The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein’s Quest for Power and the Gulf Crisis, was published by John Wiley & Sons in 1991 and was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. In 2001, Sciolino received The Distinguished Public Service Award for “outstanding contributions to international affairs,” and the Excellence in Journalism Award “in recognition of outstanding contributions to international affairs reporting and commentary” from the U.S. Secretary of State’s Open Forum Program. Her book, Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran, was awarded the 2001 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism and the Overseas Press Club Cornelius Ryan Citation for nonfiction. It was also a History Book Club selection and a New York Times Notable Book for 2000.

In her new novel, she takes the reader on a stroll down her favorite Parisian street, celebrating the neighborhood and the people who inhibit it. Her keen, journalistic eye depicts an interesting side of Paris by way of describing the lives of 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, and the woman who repairs eighteenth-century mercury barometers. She also brings the history of Paris alive in a unique way.

On this street, the patron saint of France was beheaded, the Jesuits took their first vows, and the ritual of communicating with the dead was codified. It was here that Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted circus acrobats, Émile Zola situated a lesbian dinner club in his novel Nana, and François Truffaut filmed scenes from The 400 Blows there.

Beer, wine and light fare will be available for purchase from The Filling Station throughout the event. These informal talks are free and open to the public, and include time for Q&A and book-signings. The discussion will begin at 5:30pm with doors opening at 4:45pm for sale of food, drinks and books.

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