"Look around and take notice of the traces left by street artists on the city's walls and pavement. Rethink the city, rediscover its surfaces, and map out walks that may lead you to new graphic horizons. Find something in the least imaginable places, choose what to look at — beauty is where you discover it —and interpret the artistic messages that are being communicated to you. This is an adventure that takes place in the street."
This is how Fabienne Grévy begins her fantastic book. Graffiti Paris is a book of street art photographs taken by Grévy and her father over 15 years. Together, they wandered around Paris as they looked for pieces to curate their "imaginary museum." The result is a diverse collection of street art ideas, techniques, styles, and artists. Grévy includes pieces by famous artists and anonymous ones, works with messages and works without. Each piece is numbered, and details, such as name, location, and translation, are indexed in the back of the book. The most familiar artist, at least to Americans, is probably Shepard Fairey (#53). Another notable artist is Blek le Rat (#127), the man who inspired Banksy. My favorite artist, Fafi (#49), is also included.
I absolutely loved this book. It felt like I was walking around Paris with the coolest guide, the one who always finds the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve the best food. I love to travel, and when I do, I like to wander off the beaten path. The next time I'm in Paris, this book will be my guide. (Hopefully, I'll have a Shadow as well.) I know a lot of pieces have already been painted over, but what better way to explore than looking for random street art? I love how Grévy describes graffiti art: an "artistic break-in that has yet to find a name in the books of art history." Parfait.
Rating: 5/5 stars.
I went through my pictures from France and found two that I wanted to share:
I lived in France for nearly a year and there were roughly 3,682 strikes. This picture was taken at the Louvre during one strike. I loved that even the strike posters had an artistic bent. Translation: My guardians are angry. Give them what they are owed.
This next picture was taken in the town of Angoulême. Angoulême is home to the International Comics Festival and there is comic-inspired graffiti art painted throughout the city. This was one of my favorite towns in France. I loved exploring the city while going on a street art hunt. You can get a map of the different locations from the Hôtel de Ville.
Zazie Lalochère is my hero, or perhaps antihero. Both? She's a preteen-teen (her age is never stated) from the French country who gets dropped off wit...moreZazie Lalochère is my hero, or perhaps antihero. Both? She's a preteen-teen (her age is never stated) from the French country who gets dropped off with her uncle, Gabriel, in Paris for two days so her mother can spend time with her new boyfriend. Immediately, it's obvious that Zazie is a character. When she finds out that the metro she so desperately wants to ride is closed due to a strike, she cries, "Oo the bastards!" But the moment she wins my heart comes a few pages later when she declares she wants to be a teacher. Her aunt and uncle are suitably impressed and say teaching is a good profession with a good pension. Zazie responds, "Pension my arse." The reason she wants to be a teacher is actually: "To bitch up the brats."
Everyone in this book, from Zazie to Gabriel to the landlord's parrot, is actually kind of an asshole. The landlord calls Zazie a little slut, Zazie spits in his face and accuses him of being a pedophile in front of a crowd of people. Hijinks ensue. But as the great Ms. Clairee Belcher once said:
The book is really just a series of random scenes punctuated by smartass dialogue and the occasional man-napping and attempted rape.
The dialogue might also be annoying at first because a lot of it is written colloquially.
"I'll ksplain," says Gabriel.
Usually went someone sends me a text like that ("Wot r u doin 2day?"), I want to kill myself. However, Raymond Queneau isn't some undereducated teenager. As explained in the Introduction, this was a linguistic experiment and parody by the man who co-founded the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, "a literary workshop whose raison d'être was the invention of fiendish linguistic constraints." Basically, Queneau was having some fun with Zazie. And that's why, despite the seeming randomness of plot and phonetic dialogue, Zazie in the Metro works for me. It's not meant to be highbrow, though it's written by someone in the highest echelons of French intelligentsia, and it doesn't seem like it wants to be anything. Yet, thanks to Zazie, it's still memorable and entertaining. It just feels very French. That may not be a strong enough reason to read this for a lot of people, but it was more than enough for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.(less)
If you're in your 30s-40s and you loved Eat Pray Love, huzzah, this is the book for you! Unfortunately, that is not me and I felt little connection to...moreIf you're in your 30s-40s and you loved Eat Pray Love, huzzah, this is the book for you! Unfortunately, that is not me and I felt little connection to the book or the characters. (less)
A haunting, compelling story that was almost undone by a few superfluous, cringe-inducing chapters at the end that would make Nicholas Sparks and Mitc...moreA haunting, compelling story that was almost undone by a few superfluous, cringe-inducing chapters at the end that would make Nicholas Sparks and Mitch Albom proud. This was an imperfect novel, for sure, but still one that broached a subject that should be explored more, and brought to life events that were tragically swept under a rug. Like many other reviewers, I wanted more Sarah and less Julia. At one point, Julia's boss tells her re: her story, "But you forgot a couple of things. The cops. The French cops." Julia responds, "He was right, of course. It had never entered my head." I wondered if perhaps that was exchange Tatiana de Rosnay had had with her own boss because I was curious about the cops too, but unfortunately, there is no mention beyond that.
Despite its unevenness, Sarah's Key is worth a read and shows with terrifying detail some of the atrocities that occurred in 1942.