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Paris in the Present Tense: A Novel Hardcover – October 3, 2017
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- The New York Times
“In most of the novels written in the United States since World War II, we find characters who have little or nothing to believe in . . . Mark Helprin is one of the rare writers for whom this is not the case . . . His books are romances in the chivalric mold, in which beauty, love and bravery possess a greater reality than the characters dedicated to honoring them. This is true again in his enchanting new novel, Paris in the Present Tense . . . This passionate and uplifting book produces a kind of music that few living writers know how to create.”
- Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“Paris in the Present Tense is a twilight novel, and its love affair, essential to any Helprin work, is a complex one, haunted by time . . . Helprin, author of the indelible Winter’s Tale and A Soldier of the Great War, has always been most comfortable in the epic mode, retaining a classicist’s eye for beauty while preserving enough of the contemporary world to speak to the present. His prose has an aching beauty.”
- Saul Austerlitz, The Boston Globe
“Haunting . . . extraordinary.”
- PEOPLE (A "PEOPLE picks" book)
“This is a very ambitious novel, to be read at many levels and thought about for a long time. Mark Helprin is his own master, telling a story that is in part a thriller and in part a reflection on the way of the world, its rights and its wrongs. In intention, he is closer to Victor Hugo or Alexandre Dumas than to any contemporary novelist I know of . . . The words most appropriate for this novel happen to come from French: It is a tour de force.”
- David Pryce-Jones, National Review
“On one level, Paris in the Present Tense is a caper, like The Sting, in which Jules comes up with an intricate and clever way to make his death pay off, quite literally. It’s also a bit of a romance, as he falls instantly and hopelessly in love (despite his devotion to Jacqueline) with a student named Élodi who is half-a-century his junior. Helprin’s style, however, elevates the story with sumptuous descriptions and complex characters whose conversations sometimes become analyses of such issues as anti-Semitism or meditations on the nature of music, time and love.”
- Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
“A modern-day story of love, music, and death . . . A masterpiece filled with compassion and humanity. Perfect for the pure pleasure of reading.”
- Kirkus, starred review
“The fluidity of Helprin’s prose . . . makes this novel of ideas so utterly captivating.”
- Booklist, starred review
“Mark Helprin is a fabulous writer of the sort that makes you want to capitalize the word, a justly acclaimed master . . . Helprin holds the reader’s attention, directing it to things we see but ignore and to the inner life of the mind . . . entrancing.”
- Neal Gendler, The American Jewish World
“In Mark Helprin’s newest novel, Paris in the Present Tense, yesterday is never far from today . . . In his singing prose, unique characters and a story that is both heartbreaking and inspiring, Helprin has given readers a thoughtful gift.”
- The Emporia Gazette
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Hardcover : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1468314769
- ISBN-13 : 978-1468314762
- Dimensions : 6.6 x 1.25 x 9.3 inches
- Publisher : Harry N. Abrams; 1st edition (October 3, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #123,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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30 year old with life ahead of him. This 78 year old man just lived a lifetime in 29 chapters with Jules Lacour, an obscure Parisian cellist with a wonderful sense of the world around him and a determination to right two cruel executions that might have been averted had a celebratory Bach solo been delayed for fifteen minutes and another later injustice that cost him a million euros.
You will seldom experience such a book and such a life that is finally voluntarily given up so that another may live. It is a book with a touch of Magical Realism and full of moments of laughter and sometimes implausible actions. A fine reader from Audible.com told me a story that I rationed out in measured doses as one can not eat two consecutive fine chocolates and duplicate the initial delight. Do yourself a holiday favor and savor this fine book.
Mark is an excellent writer and has a sarcastic wit aimed at bureaucrats in both large companies and in the government. From time to time, his humor brought a chuckle to me. Further, he has a love of music, especially classical music, but also has disdain for other forms of music, e.g. "be bop" and headache music (I'll leave to you to determine the specifics). Music has to be done right, and poorly done music is a bane to society. He is also a sarcastic critic of today's culture and society.
What kept me interested in the book, however, was identifying what was going to happen to Jules Lacour. The book capture my interest so well, that I couldn't put it down. At the end, the book did not disappoint.
If you want to read a beautiful, well written story about today's society and individuals doing right when everything around them is going wrong, I highly recommend this book. The writing is beautiful - I already wrote that, but is worth writing again.
This is the best book that I have read this year.
I liked the texture of this book that sifted from Paris to Los Angeles, to New York and back to Paris–with flashbacks to Algeria. The characters were rich although I did find myself wishing to know more about some of them like the rotund insurance salesman yearning to return to the family farm.
The book will be of interest to creatives as there are powerful insights into music and music making, which are applicable to creativity in general.
I would give this book more stars if possible. My only hope is that due to this books brevity we can hope for a new Helprin novel within a shorter interval. One can hope!
I found that try as I did, I could not find a reason to continue reading and I rarely put down a book, preferring to slough it out for any redeeming factor.
Paris in the Present Tense was a lost meandering of characters and motives with a psychological thread that did not warrant development. If you are looking for a beautiful read, grab Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow. Far better engagement, plot development and satisfying purpose tied together with exquisite prose.
Top reviews from other countries
The first of Mark Helprin's books I have read, although I have seen Winter's Tale. There is a beauty in his writing and in his description of sound. Enjoyed this book.
Long story short??
The story is enthralling and provides a perfect vehicle for Helprin's glorious descriptions of the city of Paris and life therein. The characters are engaging and well depicted with the protagonist one you will embrace and with whom you will identify and remember long after the final page is (regretfully) turned.