When you ask a French person what music they listen to, they’ll most likely rattle off a list of English-speaking artists. “Beyonce!” “AC/DC!” “Gotye!” they’ll tell you. It’s rare to hear any of them mention a French singer or band. The music that’s in ‘fashion’ for les jeunes (the young people) is English music. And most of them have no idea what the songs are about.
This used to be a really bizarre concept to me, but I’ve begun to realise that just because you don’t understand a song, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Music is much more about the actual music than the lyrics. (NOTE: Click on the titles to hear the song) Continue reading
This opens up a new category for ‘reviews’ on my blog (YAY for new categories! :D) and my first review is for ‘A Year in the Merde’ by Stephen Clarke. This book is a famous expat-in-France novel about a young Brit Paul West who moves to France for a year. I liked the play on the title ‘A Year in the Merde (i.e. shit)’ over the idyllic, picturesque image of France given in ‘A Year in Provence’. The blurb made me laugh when it described going on strike as the ‘second national sport after petanque‘. Plus I recently finished reading Almost French and loved it, so why not try this one?
So I found it in a bookstore in Paris and sat down expecting some belly laughs (I had first heard about it from my aunty who told me “I actually belly laughed when I read it”). It starts with Paul’s first day on his new job in Paris, the opening joke is how the French pronounce his name. It’s clear from the beginning that he can’t speak French very well and is making an idiot of himself trying to communicate with bitchy French receptionists (good luck buddy). Then I realised something… his name is Paul. What? I flipped back to the front of the book ‘by Stephen Clarke, an English journalist who lived in France for 10 years’ and then it dawned on me.
IT’S A NOVEL!
This completely threw me off – I had sat down thinking I was reading a true story about his time in France. Why would a journalist who spent 10 years in France not write about his actual experiences? I admit it turned me off, I was in the mood for a true memoir not a novel. It’s kind of like going to the movies thinking you’re about to see a comedy and you get ‘Sophie’s Choice’ instead. ‘Sophie’s Choice’ might not be a bad movie, but you’re probably going to like it less when you wanted a comedy right?