Friday, February 02, 2007

Just Read: We'll Always Have Paris by John Baxter

I think I read Baxter's last book, A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict -- the title is familiar, anyway -- so that's probably why I picked up this book. (Another reason is the subtitle: Sex and Love in the City of Light. Sex + Paris = Ooh-la-la!)

Sadly, this is one-half a memoir (of about a year, 1989-1990, when Baxter met a Frenchwoman and moved to Paris to live with her, impregnate her, and marry her, in that order) and one-half the interesting stuff about the sexual history of Parisians and visitors.

The memoir stuff could have been interesting, but Baxter never allows his French girlfriend, Marie-Do, to have a personality. He tells us that he loves her, but we don't see how or why he does. And that means the memoir bits are dull, and keep slowing down the book, just when you want Baxter to get back to talking about some grande horizontales.

The sexual-history bits are also a bit scattershot; there's no obvious organization, so it feels like he's just reeling off a list of prepared anecdotes. Baxter additionally has the unfortunate habit (he did move to Paris from Los Angeles, after all) of name-dropping; when he talks about famous people, he's compelled to mention if and how he met them.

It's not bad, but it's not what it could be, and it's not what I hoped it would be. But I doubt there's a better book about the history of sex in Paris, so, if that's what you want, this is the book for you.

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