Keith's Reviews > Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down

Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin
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's review
May 31, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed

PILYBYBMD, hereafter known as 'the book', is a pretty solid contribution to at least three or four heavily saturated and eternally popular genres: the travelogue, in which a stranger finds fulfillment and revelation in giving themselves over to a foreign situation; the office expose, in which the quirks and aspirations of one's coworkers are documented and arcane work practices and dynamics of power are brought into the open; and the city fetish novel, of which the Parisian love song is a highly common strain. One might add the autobiographical account of an aspiring artist/writer struggling to find their own voice and pay the bills to boot.

In all honesty, I can think of a far superior work (or several) in each genre, but none that has woven them together so fluidly and enjoyably. I continually deferred reading on books with possibly more educational value or artistic merit, but finished 'the book' in the course of a few evenings and commutes to work. I found myself recommending it to friends, offering to lend it out or planning to purchase copies as gifts. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux timed the release of the book perfectly; it has broad appeal and rewards for only a small commitment, equally perfect for plane flights or poolside. It's the kind of book that was meant to be read with one's sunglasses on.

The best of these works are successful because they tap into the potential for projection and escape that literature allows, but they do it in such a way that connects with one's own experiences and generates sympathy for the author's point of view. This is essentially what we have here. Perhaps the thing that I rate most highly is that Baldwin's style counters the sense of disconnect I would likely have felt in a straight presentation of the facts: the plucky way he oversold his skills to land the job; his rapid ascent through the ranks, the expat/trust-fund set parties, the celebrity dishing, the exotic location shoots, the book deal, etc. Cooked down, it reads like an unusually optimistic Whit Stillman script than an actual chain of events. It's the character of the voice and the quality of description that sells it.

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03/26 marked as: read

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