Thursday, 27 November 2008
PARIS AFTERS, GERMANY BEFORES
“I should like to spend the whole of my life travelling, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend at home.” - William Hazlitt
I am back from Paris and busily preparing for a book festival in Karlsruhe, Germany, where I travel to this coming Sunday. On Monday night I'm reading with fellow poets Matthew Sweeney and Ann Leahy.
This will be my last literary jaunt of the year and it has been quite a year for writing-related travel. Like Hazlitt, I love it and, yet, it takes me away from my home, my kids, my desk. Next year, though, will definitely be a quieter year for travel, so I shall enjoy it all while I can.
We were given a lovely welcome by Sheila Pratschke and her staff at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris and had a wonderful few days of walking, art, literature and good food. Our favourite veggie restaurant, Le Grenier de Notre Dame, has even opened a new branch on the peaceful Île Saint-Louis - heaven!
My reading and talk went well; Parisian audiences are very polite and they asked pertinent and interesting questions. Sheila brought us and the other resident artists - Martin Healy, Anita Groener, Greg Delanty and Ed Bennett - for dinner in Café Soufflot. It was a great evening of food and chat and lots of laughter.
We went to Shakespeare & Co, as usual, and to a different English language bookshop: The Red Wheelbarrow, in the Marais. I got another Mavis Gallant collection there (I had hoped to get it in Shakespeare but they only had the one I already own) so I was happy to buy her Paris Stories in Paris, as planned. I plan to blog about Gallant. I 'discovered' her this year and have been blown away by her brilliant short fiction; I will blog about her before long.