Why this book?
In A Year in the Merde, Stephen Clarke walks the line perfectly between berating the country he's in and making it clear he is, in truth, really enjoying himself. When I discovered the book, I (a Brit) was living in Grenoble in France so it was particularly relevant. At the time, I was desperately trying to complete my Masters - in engineering! - but Clarke's book opened my eyes to a world where you can earn a living by documenting your travel experiences.
Within six months, I had completed my Masters (by the skin of my teeth), turned my back on engineering, and enrolled in a post-graduate course in journalism. 11 years later, I've worked on books of my own, including guides to Malaysia, India, Spain, and France - returning to Grenoble, the place where it all began.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
What are the French really like?
Paul West, a young Englishman arriving in Paris to start a new job, is about to find out.
They do eat a lot of cheese, some of which smells like pigs' droppings.
They don't wash their armpits with garlic soap.
Going on strike really is the second national participation sport after petanque.
And, yes, they do use suppositories.
Less quaint than A Year in Provence, less chocolatey than Chocolat, A Year in the Merde will tell you how to get served by the grumpiest Parisian waiter; how to make perfect vinaigrette every time;…