The Idea of Paris

Carroll, Tobias. “Is Paris Still an Art World Heavyweight?” InsideHook, 20 November 2019:

[…] A very different take on Paris and art comes from the recent anthology We’ll Never Have Paris, edited by Andrew Gallix. From his perspective, a lot of discussion of Paris emerges from Anglophone perceptions of it. “I have lived here most of my life — in several parts of the 9th and 14th arrondissements, as well as in the 6th and 18th — and currently reside in one of Paris’s poor, rat-infested northern banlieues, soon to be subsumed into a brave new Grand Paris,” he says. “I certainly cannot be accused of labouring under the delusion that it is all glamorous boutiques and bohemian cafés. I know what the reality of everyday life in Paris is and relaying it to an English-speaking readership was not what I set out to do. Quite the contrary, in fact.”

For Gallix, the anthology became a way to explore how certain writers helped to shape enduring perceptions of Paris. “It dawned on me that the romantic notion of a bohemian Paris that many people entertain all over the world owed as much to Hemingway and other English-language writers as to Hugo or Rimbaud,” he explains. “So I set out to explore this Anglo version of Paris. I wanted to see how the idea of Paris — whether rooted in their experience or not — inspired Anglophone writers today.”

Here, the contributors hail from a host of nations, including Will Self, Max Porter and Joanna Walsh. “I started off by approaching authors whose work I admired and who had, I knew, resided for a while in Paris, either recently or years ago,” Gallix says. “At the same time, I shunned the expat communities and in particular all those purveyors of ghastly expat memoirs. I also made sure that some of the contributors had never even set foot in France, let alone Paris, so that the remit would become a kind of Oulipian writing constraint in their case. Only five contributors, out of 79, currently reside in the French capital.”

Gallix also planned for a weighty volume from the very beginning. “I knew from the start that I wanted to produce a capacious volume that readers could dip into aboard the Eurostar or while sipping a coffee at a sidewalk café,” he says.

As for the reaction to We’ll Never Have Paris, it’s been mixed, he explains. “The book got very good reviews in the Times Literary Supplement and Financial Times. However, sales have proved much healthier in the US than in the UK despite the lack of reviews across the Pond,” Gallix says. “This is probably due to a strong sales team and good distribution. Perhaps the allure of Paris also remains greater over there. You tell me.”

Regardless of whether you embrace Paris wholeheartedly or view it with a historical remove, both [Will Mountain] Cox and Gallix are, in their own ways, demonstrating the continued vibrancy of the city and the work it can inspire. It’s not what you might expect, but it might be just the work you’re looking for.

Monocle 24 Radio

On 15th August, I was interviewed about We’ll Never Have Paris (Repeater Books) for Fernando Augusto Pacheco’s programme, The Stack, on Monocle 24 Radio. The interview was broadcast two days later. You can listen to my segment here. Full programme below.

The Belly of Paris

Nick Lander, “Vantre (Not Ventre).” Jancis Robinson, 22 July 2019:

In his recently published and well-reviewed book, the Anglo-French writer turned editor Andrew Gallix explores a fascinating theme.

He quotes Oscar Wilde from The Picture of Dorian Grey: ‘When good Americans die, they move to Paris’.

Gallix’s collection of contributions from over 70 authors is entitled We’ll Never Have Paris. Published by Repeater in the US and Penguin Random House in the UK, his book seeks to explore the myths that surround this wonderfully attractive and romantic city. His thesis is that Paris can just as easily be disappointing as fulfilling.

It is a shame that among all the well-known contributors there is no one whose speciality is writing about restaurants, the phenomenon which Paris at the turn of the 19th century gave to the world, and a common reason why visitors to this website also visit The City of Light.

Beauvilliers, Lavenne and Veron et Baron were three of the most prestigious restaurants in the early 1800s in Paris. As well as the good food and wine they offered, they were also able to provide a further reason for the many British then in Paris to visit them: they offered a rare opportunity to watch the French at play.

Had I been asked to contribute, I am afraid that I would have had to end any paean of praise to Paris and its restaurants on a disappointed note. There are so many good places to eat, so many that evoke happy memories of my times in the city, but I am always at a loss to answer the following question: why are so many open only Monday to Friday and closed at the weekend when most tourists are there?…

We’ll Never Have Paris Book Launch

Joint Parisian book launch for We’ll Never Have Paris and Andrew Hodgson’s Paris collection for Dostoyevsky Wannabe at Shakespeare and Company on 20th June 2019

Andrew Gallix, Laura Waddell, Susana Medina, Fernando Sdrigotti

Andrew Hodgson, Andrew Gallix, Adam Biles (pic by Sam Jordison)

Gerry Feehily, Susana Medina, Sam Jordison, Yelena Moskovich, Ian Monk, Andrew Hodgson, Thom Cuell, Lauren Elkin, Andrew Gallix, Fernando Sdrigotti

Even Kenneth Goldsmith turned up (here pictured Chez Panis)

Me and Kenneth Goldsmith, Chez Panis

Listen to the podcast here or below:

Youth, Politics, Romance and Illness

Max Liu on We’ll Never Have Paris in the Financial Times, 1 June 2019

. . . There is something for most tastes among the 82 contributions, edited by Andrew Gallix. From Nicholas Royle’s mini-thriller “Music for French Films” to the experimentalism of Joanna Walsh’s “The Hanged Man”, there are pieces about youth, politics, illness and romance. Some of the writers, from the UK, US and beyond, live or have lived in Paris. Almost all of them explore the myth of bohemian Paris — “an anglophone construct”, according to Gallix. . . . Readers might come to this book for its celebrated contributors — the novelists Will Self and Tom McCarthy among them — but they should stay for the efforts of its lesser-known lights. . . . Repeater has sensibly published this near 600-page volume as a paperback original that would fit comfortably in your bag as you amble along the boulevards. . . . Paris eludes our attempts to define it, but the range of styles and voices in this book suggests it will always capture writers’ imaginations.