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Thrust into the unlikely role of professional "literary walking tour" guide, an expat writer provides the most irresistibly witty and revealing tour of Paris in years.
In this enchanting memoir, acclaimed author and long-time Paris resident John Baxter remembers his yearlong experience of giving "literary walking tours" through the city. Baxter sets off with unsuspecting tourists in tow on the trail of Paris's legendary artists and writers of the past. Along the way, he tells the history of Paris through a brilliant cast of characters: the favorite cafés of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce; Pablo Picasso's underground Montmartre haunts; the bustling boulevards of the late-nineteenth-century flâneurs; the secluded "Little Luxembourg" gardens beloved by Gertrude Stein; the alleys where revolutionaries plotted; and finally Baxter's own favorite walk near his home in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
A NEW YORK TIMES "SUMMER READING" PICK!
From the incomparable John Baxter, award-winning author of the bestselling The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, a sumptuous and definitive portrait of Paris through the seasons, highlighting the unique tastes, sights, and changing personality of the city in spring, summer, fall, and winter.
When the common people of France revolted in 1789, one of the first ways they chose to correct the excesses of the monarchy and the church was to rename the months of the year. Selected by poet and playwright Philippe-Francois-Nazaire Fabre, these new names reflected what took place at that season in the natural world; Fructidor was the month of fruit, Floréal that of flowers, while the winter wind (vent) dominated Ventôse.
Though the names didn’t stick, these seasonal rhythms of the year continue to define Parisians, as well as travelers to the city. As acclaimed author and long-time Paris resident John Baxter himself recollects, “My own arrival in France took place in Nivôse, the month of snow, and continued in Pluviôse, the season of rain. To someone coming from Los Angeles, where seasons barely existed, the shock was visceral. Struggling to adjust, I found reassurance in the literature, music, even the cuisine of my adoptive country, all of which marched to the inaudible drummer of the seasons.”
Devoting a section of the book to each of Fabre’s months, Baxter draws upon Paris’s literary, cultural and artistic past to paint an affecting, unforgettable portrait of the city. Touching upon the various ghosts of Paris past, from Hemingway and Zelda Fitzgerald, to Claude Debussy to MFK Fisher to Francois Mitterrand, Baxter evokes the rhythms of the seasons in the City of Light, and the sense of wonder they can arouse for all who visit and live there.
A melange of history, travel reportage, and myth, of high culture and low, A Year in Paris is vintage John Baxter: a vicarious thrill ride for anyone who loves Paris.
From the bestselling author of The Most Beautiful Walk in the World comes this first book in an exciting new series of narrative “biographies” of Paris’s great neighborhoods, beginning with Saint-Germain-des-Pres—the city’s “rebel quarter,” for centuries a center of artistic, intellectual, and revolutionary activity and home to some of Paris’s most iconic cafes and shops.
For many years, Saint-Germain-des-Pres has been a stronghold of sans culottes, a refuge to artists, a paradise for bohemians. It’s where Marat printed L’Ami du Peuple and Thomas Paine wrote The Rights of Man. Napoleon, Hemingway, and Sartre have all called it home. Descartes is buried there. Now bestselling author and Paris expert, John Baxter takes readers and travelers on a narrative tour of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, which is also where Baxter makes his home.
Tucked along the shores of the Left Bank, Saint-Germain-des-Pres embodies so much of what makes Paris special. Its cobblestone streets and ancient facades survive to this day, spared from modernization thanks to a quirk in their construction. Traditionally cheap rents attracted outsiders and political dissidents from the days of Robespierre to the student revolts of the 1960s. And its intellectual pedigree boasts such luminaries as Pablo Picasso, Arthur Rimbaud, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Simone de Beauvoir, Gertrude Stein, and Albert Camus. Baxter reveals all, guiding readers to the cafes, gardens, shops, and monuments that bring this hidden history to life.
Part-history, part-guidebook, Saint-Germain-des-Pres is a fresh look at one of the City of Light’s most iconic quarters, and a delight for new tourists and Paris veterans alike.
An explosive and perceptive biography of the British novelist J.G. Ballard
To many people, J.G. Ballard will always be the schoolboy in Steven Spielberg's movie Empire of the Sun, struggling to survive as an internee of the Japanese during World War II. Others remember him as the author of CRASH, a meditation on the eroticism of the automobile and the car crash, which also became a film and a cause celebre for its frank depiction of a fetish which, as this book reveals, was no literary conceit but a lifelong preoccupation.
In this first biography, John Baxter draws on an admiration of and acquaintance with Ballard that began when they were writers for the same 1960s science fiction magazines. With the help of the few people whom he admitted to his often hermit-like existence, it illuminates the troubled reality behind the urbane and amiable facade of a man who was proud to describe himself as 'psychopathic'.
In the second portrait of his series Great Parisian Neighborhoods, award-winning raconteur John Baxter leads us on a whirlwind tour of Montmartre, the hill-top village that fired the greatest achievements of modern art while also provoking bloody revolution and the sexual misbehavior that made Paris synonymous with sin
High on the northern edge of Paris, Montmartre has always attracted bohemians, political radicals, the searchers for artistic inspiration as well as those hungry for pleasure. In its winding, windmill-shadowed streets, which, only fifty years before, saw the anarchist rising of the Commune, Renoir, Picasso and van Gogh seized a similar freedom to remake painting, while, in the tenderloin of Pigalle, Toulouse-Lautrec drew the cancan dancers of the Moulin Rouge, celebrating a hedonism that titillated the world,
In Montmartre, bestselling author and IACP Award winner John Baxter lifts the curtain on a district that visitors to Paris seldom see. From the tumbledown workshops of the Bateau Lavoir in which Picasso and Braque created Cubism to Clichy's Cabaret of Nothingness where guests dined at coffins under lamps of human bones, the whole of this mysterious enclave is ours to explore.
For visitors and armchair travelers alike, Montmartre captures the excitement and scandal of a fascinating quarter that condenses the elusive perfumes, colors and songs of Paris.
What was Paris to Hemingway, and he to Paris? And how much of his city survives for us to visit and explore?
In Hemingway's Paris: A User's Guide, prize-winning author John Baxter (The Most Beautiful Walk in the World) evokes the French capital as it was between 1921 and 1926, when Hemingway lived there, and provides a unique insider's guide to the city he knew and loved.
John Baxter was born in Australia, but has lived in Paris for 25 years, most of that time in the building which Sylvia Beach made her home while running the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop. As well as writing extensively about the city and its history, he leads literary walks around sites associated with James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
More details on www.johnbaxterparis.com.
A preeminent writer on Paris, John Baxter brilliantly brings to life one of the most dramatic and fascinating periods in the city’s history.
From 1914 through 1918 the terrifying sounds of World War I could be heard from inside the French capital. For four years, Paris lived under constant threat of destruction. And yet in its darkest hour, the City of Light blazed more brightly than ever. It’s taxis shuttled troops to the front; its great railway stations received reinforcements from across the world; the grandest museums and cathedrals housed the wounded, and the Eiffel Tower hummed at all hours relaying messages to and from the front.
At night, Parisians lived with urgency and without inhibition. Artists like Pablo Picasso achieved new creative heights. And the war brought a wave of foreigners to the city for the first time, including Ernest Hemingway and Baxter’s own grandfather, Archie, whose diaries he used to reconstruct a soldier’s-eye view of the war years. A revelatory achievement, Paris at the End of the World shows how this extraordinary period was essential in forging the spirit of the city beloved today.
First published in 1996 and now available as an ebook. Please note that this edition does not include illustrations.
Steven Spielberg dominated the cinema of the nineties. He is one of the screen's greatest enchanters, with a spellbinding capacity – and a box-office record – matched by very few.
His power now exceeds that of the greatest moguls of Hollywood's golden era, and films like 'Jaws, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and 'Jurassic Park' have been seen by billions around the world, and have changed forever the way movies are made. How was it that this 'movie brat', from an unhappy and rootless adolescence on the fringes of American society, became one of the most formidable players on the global entertainment scene?.
From 'Duel', which suggested the innate 'film sense' Spielberg would bring to movie-making, to the Oscar-winning 'Schindler's List 'and beyond…
John Baxter's The Perfect Meal is part grand tour of France, part history of French cuisine, taking readers on a journey to discover and savor some of the world's great cultural achievements before they disappear completely.
Some of the most revered and complex elements of French cuisine are in danger of disappearing as old ways of agriculture, butchering, and cooking fade and are forgotten. In this charming culinary travel memoir, John Baxter follows up his bestselling The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by taking his readers on the hunt for some of the most delicious and bizarre endangered foods of France.
The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France is the perfect read for foodies and Francophiles, cooks and gastronomists, and fans of food culture.
The first major biography (since 1983) of the great movie mogul George Lucas, whose marketing techniques have transformed the film business. His fourth Star Wars film, The Phantom Menace, released in 1999, was perhaps the most eagerly awaited cinematic event of all time.
George Lucas is one of the most innovative bigtime players on the movie scene. His three Star Wars films and the trio featuring the action hero Indiana Jones (all six of which Lucas conceived, produced and co-wrote) comprise the most popular group of films ever made. To finance them, he masterminded a revolutionary redrawing of the financial agreements under which films were produced in Hollywood, snatching away control of funding, intellectual content and the distribution of profits from studios, and placing them in the hands of the film-makers themselves.
Yet Lucas remains (like Stanley Kubrick, the subject of John Baxter’s recent biography) an enigma and a recluse. He has specially built the Skywalker Ranch a long way from Hollywood – a Victorian village community in a redwood forest where he and his friends can work in splendid isolation, free of studio pressure but with the highest technology.