Letter from Paris
DATELINE: 14 July, Bastille Day, Paris
From time to time, I’ll be posting my reflections for The Berkshire Edge from the two mythical places in which I live and write: the Left Bank of Paris and Greenwich Village.
When I was (or thought I was) the only 14 year old existentialist in Seattle, Washington (and desperate to be on the road), news of writers and artists in Greenwich Village and Saint-Germain-des-Près filtered back to me through the cloudy Pacific Northwest like magic lanterns lighting the way to another life. I vowed I’d live in both of those places myself one day — and kept that promise the moment my foot reached the gas pedal. And although The Village and the Rive Gauche have been radically reinterpreted in the last quarter of a century (as everywhere, real estate is having its wicked way), they are still beautiful beyond belief, still redolent of vibrant histories and social experiments, still inspiring places for a working writer to set up her desk.
The French call the short, semi-biographical dispatches I’ll be writing for you “chroniques.” (It’s “chronicles,” if you prefer your definitions collapsed and translated.) Mine will be mildly personal, strongly atmospheric, and much indebted to their elegant begettor Janet Flanner, who helped set The New Yorker’s early, insouciant style with her fifty years of “Letters From Paris.”
Like Miss Flanner, when I’m in New York I’m usually thinking about Paris.
But when I’m Paris, it’s impossible to think about any other place….