A love letter to Paris written in iPhone notes and in the troubling intimacy of public transport post-Charlie Hebdo attacks, Lauren Elkin's diary of a year on a Parisian bus pays homage to Georges Perec and Annie Ernaux. In this chronicle of the ordinary makings of a city and its people, the author's own body is a threatened vessel; that of the author as a woman as an author as a pregnant woman on the bus.
Publisher: Les Fugitives
Number of pages: 125
Dimensions: 190 x 100 mm
'A celebration of the commonplace observations and interactions that comprise urban living, and a vivid montage of what it meant to be a Parisian in a time of siege. Blending memoir, history and criticism, Elkin's work engages with the literature of both her native and her adopted tongues. This elegiac, redemptive meditation on collective and private grief reminds us to look up from our screens and notice the unremarkable threads that bind a community.' - Spectator; 'Perhaps one of the most interesting voices claiming the streets for women at the moment...' - Will Self; 'Paris in intense, dramatic closeup - an insider's entrancing view. Lauren Elkin turns her phone outwards, like a camera to see with, she writes about the outside world while inside a glass container (the bus), she maps the inner world of self and indeed of the bus onto the outer world she is travelling through. She allows herself to catch moments most writers would think don't belong in a text. The book's form perfectly embodies its content. It is disarmingly modest and that is part of its charm. She is thinking about self /community. Re-making it.' - Michele Roberts; 'I loved this book. I loved its honesty, its impatience, its tenderness, its testiness, its humour. I love all the different ways of noticing it lays bare. Indeed Elkin captures all the thoughts, impressions, digressions, and speculations that go on in our minds while we surrender to being just another inert body on a bus. Thrilling and absorbing, these are notes to treasure and return to.' - Claire-Louise Bennett; 'Lauren Elkin's commuter buses comprise a world where all existential concerns are present - the embodied self, the individual in society, and the bond of casual community. Within this constrained world Elkin observes and dramatizes "the morning thumb ballet of checking all the things I check on my phone" while confronting all that it means to be human.' - Sarah Manguso, author of Ongoingness; 'Paris - as viewed from the vantage point of a daily bus journey - is not so much exhausted as it is enchanted by the gift of attention: the work glitters with life.'- Jenn Ashworth, author of Notes Made While Falling; 'Elkin collects insights, images and stray conversation, her notes becoming a portal into the unconscious life of the city. She cultivates empathy for her fellow travellers, recognising in them the possibility for meaningful connection.' - Laura Grace Ford, author of Savage Messiah; 'Like the windows of the 91/92 bus, Elkin's book is as much an illuminating mirror of many angles as it is a cinema screen. All of these encounters and thoughts build up a compelling portrait of the many cities that hide within the singular name of Paris and the many selves we contain.' - Darrran Anderson, author of Inventory; 'Like sitting between Perec and Anne Garreta on a cross-town bus (this is the highest of compliments).' - Jonny Diamond, on Twitter; 'An artful excursion in seeing and apprehending everyday lives. If you're not in Paris just pretend you are, then read this on a bus for peak resonance.' - Simon Armstrong, Tate Modern