cover image Paris Without Her: A Memoir

Paris Without Her: A Memoir

Gregory Curtis. Knopf, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-52565-762-0

In this tender if uneven memoir, Texas Monthly editor Curtis (The Cave Painters) sifts through the memories of a 35-year marriage cut short by the death of his wife and his struggles to forge ahead alone. After his wife, Tracy, died of cancer, Curtis, 66, spent most nights at home alone replaying memories of his marriage, many of which, he realized, happened in Paris. Curtis then recounts how the trips the pair took to the city kept the magic in their marriage; they experienced new firsts, pretended to be native Parisians, visited “a spectacle” (a sex show), and bought glamorous clothes they wore every day in Paris, but were left unworn in their hometown of Austin. However, after Curtis’s account of his last trip to Paris with Tracy, the narrative loses steam as it pivots from a dramatic love story to Curtis’s life as a self-described “flaneur,” wandering the streets of Paris on subsequent visits without Tracy and thus, to him, without aim. His observations of Paris, though painstakingly detailed (readers get a turn by turn tour of countless Parisian boulevards and corners), frequently fall flat and tend to revolve around lackadaisical descriptions of attractive women he sees on the street. Nonetheless, Francophiles may enjoy this detailed tour of the City of Light. (Apr.)