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False Papers

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  168 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
In these fourteen essays Andre Aciman, one of the most poignant stylists of his generation, dissects the experience of loss, moving from his forced departure from Alexandria as a teenager, though his brief stay in Europe and finally to the home he's made (and half invented) on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 8th 2001 by Picador (first published June 1st 2000)
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I haven't read "Out of Egypt" yet, but I didn't have to read it to get a sense of where Aciman's melancholy and nostalgia in this book, stems from. This book of essays is about his life as an exile. The book warmed my insides like tea on a cold day. A man, an immigrant, an exile, misses his home (which doesn't feel like home anymore since his family was forced to leave), and with his lyrical and beautifully written narrative, there is no way you can read and not sense it. In fact, it pulls you i ...more
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When i started the book a while back, i wrote:
It is amazing how Aciman in these articles beautifully brings to paper the feelings of exile and nostalgia, the attempt to to calm oneself and find oneself around the world. and It is amazing how once again like in his novel i can identify with him.

Now, after a long interval, I just finished the book and I am even more into him than before. I had almost forgotten how much i feel this man. How his words mean so much especially on these days:

"I want
May 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: found-in-praha
okay book. decent travel narrative of someone who never seems to be able to identify himself with a geographic location, more of the idea of said location before or after being there, even to the point where he is in a place he wants to visit, and wishes he was there at a different time, or the place he is reminds him of another place. or the most confusing of all, he finds that the only way to enjoy himself in a place is to live it nostalgically in the present, thinking of the place he left and ...more
Randall Jones
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read Call Me By Your Name earlier this year and liked it enough to want to try Aciman's essays. This book just fell into my hands and I'm so glad. It's better than the novel, I think, and so, so thought provoking. It sends me back to my family so long ago. And to my beginnings and changings and turnings and thinkings and above all rememberings. Aciman is an elegant and intellectual writer, not to everyone's taste I'd expect, but certainly to mine.
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A travel book that is so much more than a travel book. Travel writing at its highest form, mixed with reflections on our connection to places, how they influence our lives and how our perceptions of them changes with time. Beautiful, candid, moving at times, looking forward to reading more books by Aciman.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Beautiful writing, but an entire book awash in nostalgia was a bit too much for me.
William Shieber
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
In "Invisible Cities," Kublai Khan asks Marco Polo why he never speaks of his home city Venice, and Polo states that every city he has described was a description of Venice. Every essay in this collection is a reflection on the author's home city of Alexandria, and his exile from it (generally explicitly, but not always). The essays are lyrical, descriptive, and well worth reading.

Here's the discussion of Venice in "Invisible Cities."

Then came a day when Marco Polo had to inform the Khan, ‘Sire
E. Ce Miller
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
In this collection of fourteen essays, writer André Aciman explores the experience of exile, displacement, loss and loneliness; showing readers his experience of always being somewhere else--Alexandria, Egypt--no matter where in the world he actually is. Aciman writes:

"It is precisely because you have no roots that you don't budge, that you fear change, that you'll build on anything rather than look for land. An exile is not just someone who has lost his home; he is someone who can't find anothe
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
For some writers more than others, the writer’s sensibility dominates my experience of reading a piece, taking precedence over the subject matter, narrative or style of the work in terms of the impression it leaves on me. Reading Aciman’s False Papers, I had such an experience. His awareness of, or even preoccupation with, the ways in which his experience of being exiled as a teenager from Egypt in the 1960s for being Jewish have influenced how he processes the world is acute, and he consistent ...more
Jun 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Im dipping into these essays at night, currently on the first about Alexandria. (Hard to pass up when house-sitting and it's on the nightstand and I have been meaning to read it!)

I've finished reading these. I prefer them in small chunks rather than larger sittings. The repetition is wearing in one glut of a go: memories of Alexandria and comments on the state of exile induce a fugal state of exile from self, memories of what for me never was. It's also Aciman's own obsessive arbitrage (a
Haunting, elegant essays on the themes of memory and loss. Aciman writes about those moments when one realises that loss is irrevocable, and that memory plays us false. Returning to his family's lost home in Alexandria, walking though the abandoned subway station at 91st St., realising that throughout his life he's looked at lovers knowing that he was already constructing stories for later years about how they vanished... Aciman reminds us that nostalgia isn't about what we've lost or what we've ...more
Sabrine Faragallah
Jun 18, 2011 rated it liked it
I am on the fence about this book.

A Professor of mine in Grad School lent it to me as she thought I would identify with Aciman's experience as a one of Middle Eastern descent and the years he spent in New York. Two years later I've been able to approach it.

I'm not sure if it was a matter of me adapting to his writing style, I found the first few essays of time in Rome and in Alexandria rambling and some metaphors in the romantic essays long winded (except for Arbitrage).

To finish the book, I h
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
André Aciman is one of the best writers I have discovered this year. This is another set of essays which follow on his Alexandrian memoir Out of Egypt. He writes of memory and loss, of places that only exist in memories, and of the politics of place.

A section out of In the Muslim City of Bethlehem, where he visits Palestinian Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus, on Christmas eve.

"Politics and religion are so intricately braided that, in talking about the current conflict, it is customary to re
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was ok

I decided to read this short book on the strength of several very good essays Aciman has written about Proust, available here, here, and here. But this collection of essays is merely good, not great. Unlike his contentious Proust essays, these proffered too little to care or think about.

Aciman did, however, enthuse me to watch Becket & I liked it.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
My heart has yet to read a more ecstatic book on "exile and memory". A must for all who know the nostalgia of escaping one's country of birth, the melancholy of the seashore, of non-belonging, of being torn between languages and cultures.
"Nostalgia is the ache to return, to come home; nostophobia the fear of returning; nostomania, the obsession with going back; nostography, writing about return." If you have never felt any of these, this book is not for you. The whole book is a love affair of t
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Pretty good collection of essays on moving, on loss, on memory, on place, and their effect on one another. Some essays were extremely moving and almost articulated exactly my feelings about my own relocations and my attitudes towards them; all were written beautifully. However, I remember feeling tired of these themes by the end of the book. The essays began to feel repetitive. Now, a few days after finishing the book, I lost much of the complexity of feelings I originally had toward the essays ...more
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first paragraph - "nostography" - beautiful

"This is how I always travel: not so much to experience anything at the time of my tour, but to plot the itinerary of a possible return trip. This, it occurs to me, is also how I live."

I've enjoyed this collection of essays, and yet as I put the book down, I can't help but think that "nostalgia" is a euphemism for "invented loves" and "imagined places" because we never truly remember the ones left or the places in our past -- we create emotions and
Andrew Rosner
Mixed feelings about this collection of essays. Some I found to be too esoteric and caught up in a sort of Proustian self indulgence. On the other hand, there's some very engaging work here, particularly the first essay concerning his return to Alexandria. It's a terrific telling of the recent history of this historic city and his place in it. While I'm not enthralled with this collection, it does make me curious about his memoir "Out of Egypt" - I have a feeling it might be really good.
Oct 20, 2016 added it
somnolent moody prose.
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The most moving memoir on memory, childhood, and home that I've ever read.
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Arbitrage" is one of my favorite essays of all time.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
Aciman is a talented essayist, but now the "Prince of Nostalgia" has become repetitious and precious.
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André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist, and scholar of seventeenth-century literature. He has also written many essays and reviews on Marcel Proust. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Condé Nast Traveler as well as in many volumes of The Best American Ess ...more
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“expatriation, like love, is not only a condition that devastates and reconfigures the self; it is, like love, a trope, a figure with which we try to explain, try to narrate profound psychological disruptions in terms of very measurable entities: a person, a place, an event, a moment, etc.” 3 likes
“Since you're going to Paris, you don't want to go to Paris. But if you were staying in New York, you'd want to be in Paris. But since you#re not staying, but going, just do me a favor.
When you're in Paris, think of yourself in New York longing for Paris, and everything will be fine.”
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