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A Year in the Merde Paperback – May 2, 2006
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He's a British expat in Paris for a year. He struggles to mesh his work style with the French style. There's some funny stuff. Then it degenerates into a young, homesick horny guy looking to get into the pantalets of an equally young sexy French girl.
There's nothing wrong with that. I believe that's what all young men want ! But I missed all the funny nuances between cultures as he simply wanted to "get some" for the rest of the book. It became formulaic rather than a funny contrast between two cultures.
I recommend his other book "1000 Years......" rather than this one.
Paul, by no means a Europhile, sometimes conveys admiration for French food, and especially, the cost of public transportation and restaurant prices. Sometimes, in an ironic manner he really hits a bull's-eye, for instance, observing that French farmers no doubt get subsidies for painting their pigs with the EU flag and that when visiting a doctor in France, admin always comes before health.
Spending only nine months in France, Mr. West manages to go through almost all realms of French daily routine. He looks for an apartment for rent and visits one, where the last resident was a certain Monsieur Dracula. He goes through ordeal at prefecture getting his carte de sejour at the boot six - "boot of death" and later almost buys a house from his boss lawyer-friend, who is Dickens character, but recently had visited a modern clothes shop. Of course, inevitably, time-to-time, he steps into merde on the dirty Paris streets, which bothers him a lot.
In Paris, Paul doesn't feel lonely. He makes friends with several carefree girls (including his boss' daughter) and almost inevitably hits home runs on the first night. Willy-nilly, one gets an impression that Paul has looks of, if not of Alain Delon, then Hugh Grant beyond doubt. He is always long awaited in a nearby pub by his buddies Bob, Ian and Dave (who seem to be living there). One night his mates wait for him with girls, one of whom, it occurs, gave him a fellatio last time, which he, of course, didn't remember, because was hammered. Finding this out, his buddies and girls almost roll on the ground laughing and Paul is a star of the night.
But all in all, a couple dozen pages of insipid jokes like these is only a fly in the ointment. One has to put up with it, realizing that the book is aimed to widest possible audience. I will definitely pick up Clarke's next book "In the Merde for Love", hoping that Paul in his dialogues with his, certainly, numerous girlfriends will be as witty as he is in his observations.
In other words,it was a meaty dish and not the souffle you'd expect. Bon appetit!