Cover image for My Paris
My Paris
Scott, Gail, 1945-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
[Normal, Ill.] : Dalkey Archive Press, 2003.

Physical Description:
138 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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In My Paris, a Canadian woman keeps an extraordinary journal of her time in a Parisian studio. Not a typical tourist, she prefers indoor spaces, seeing Paris go by on TV or watching from her window the ever-changing displays of men's designer clothing across the boulevard. Or she roams the streets, caught between nostalgia and a competing sense of the present day, between Paris's rich cultural traditions and the realities of Western imperialism. Disillusioned by her inability to reconcile these contradictions and by her own part in perpetuating them, she assembles in her journal pieces of the present, past, of art, philosophy, of herself, and of the world outside her.

Author Notes

Gail Scott is a writer and translator. She has been short-listed twice for the QSPELL (Québec English-language fiction) award. A former journalist who has worked for Canada's leading newspapers, she is also a founding editor of the Montréal French-language cultural journal Spirale, and the bilingual journal of women's writing, Tessera. Her translations include France Théoret's Laurence, and The Sailor's Disquiet, and Helen with a Secret, both by Michael Delisle.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Scott is French Canadian, and this novel was named one of the 10 best Canadian novels of 1999 by the prestigious Canadian magazine Quill & Quire. That it garnered such kudos will not surprise American readers, for anyone who appreciates serious literature will recognize it is a tour de force of technique, style, and soul. Ostensibly, the novel is the journal of a Canadian writer in temporary residence in a Paris atelier. It is as if readers have been handed the writer's journal, through which they learn her every on-the-spot reaction to being a foreigner--albeit a French-speaking foreigner--in one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities. But even given Paris' cosmopolitan nature, is the narrator immediately at home there? Not at all. The city's notorious haughtiness, however, is not to be entirely blamed for the narrator's slow-to-erode sense of outsiderliness. Much of it has to do with her inability, at first, to respond openly to the multilevel stimulation Paris exerts on anyone who stops there for longer than the usual tourist week or two. Postcard Paris, bourgeois Paris, and even scruffy Paris all comprise the knock-you-sideways set of impressions the successful longtime visitor must absorb. This is a novel of place, of urban place; a novel that is so about Paris that, as cliched as it sounds, Paris functions as the chief protagonist. There are few complete sentences here, yet the reader soon feels at ease with the rhythm and syncopation of a writing style done in words and phrases. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

Library Journal Review

In this intriguing book, an Anglo-Quebecois woman writer visiting Paris in the early 1990s muses about life, literature, art, and politics in stream-of-consciousness diary entries. Through these 120 brief entries, we are made privy to the things that struck her: places of historical merit, commercial offerings, the mistreatment of African immigrants, caf? culture, and the war in Sarajevo. We also read snippets about contemporary French TV and are kept abreast of the ways a clothing store near her apartment entices shoppers. Scott eschews complete sentences, offering only impressionistic fragments: "Thinking growing old in Paris. Maybe nice. City being circular. Metro. Every half kilometer." While many readers will find this technique tiresome, Canada's Quill & Quire magazine dubbed the book one of 1999's ten best. Perhaps this is because the novel lingers in the mind's eye long after it is finished. Vivid, personal, and seemingly honest, this work is recommended for large public and academic collections.-Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.