cover image French Like Moi: A Midwesterner in Paris

French Like Moi: A Midwesterner in Paris

Scott Carpenter. Travelers’ Tales, $16.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-60952-183-7

In this funny memoir, Carpenter (Theory of Remainders), who teaches French literature and creative writing at Minnesota’s Carleton College, recounts moving from small-town Northfield, Minn., to Paris during an eye-opening sabbatical with his wife. With dry wit, Carpenter writes of being brought into the local police station within three months of his arrival for not having a proper visa; visiting the Paris catacombs, despite his intense claustrophobia; learning that his neighbors were stealthily annexing bits of the building; visiting French doctors and pharmacies; navigating the language (“For example, un car is pretty obviously a car—until it turns out to be a bus”); and observing tourists (“I have never watched locusts swarm a field of wheat, but I bet it looks a lot like Paris when the tourists arrive”). Carpenter has a knack for turning potential catastrophes into comedy, as with his account of dealing with an incompetent bank loan officer while trying to purchase an apartment (“Turned out things weren’t going, and weren’t ever going to go, precisely because my file had never gone anywhere”). Readers will find plenty to appreciate in Carpenter’s sharp take on expat life. (May)