Thursday, September 1, 2016

Pancakes in Paris by Craig Carlson

Subtitled, "Living the American Dream in France," Craig Carlson's  delightful memoir was just what the doctor ordered after "The Underground Railroad." For anyone who loves to travel, these ex-pat memoirs, books of enviable self-discovery, are so much fun to read and often, though they appear lighthearted, can have many serious undertones too.

Product DetailsCarlson has a quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor and is great fun to spend time with. His narrative voice is so real, you feel as if you're meeting a new friend and really getting to know him.

The story is about Carlson's love affair with France, a relationship that began when he spent time abroad while a student at the University of Connecticut. Like so many of us who would love to live abroad, Carlson's life took him in a completely different direction, to Hollywood and a career as a successful screenwriter. But there was always a little something scratching away in the back of his mind.

What is remarkable about Carlson's story is how many ferociously difficult obstacles he had to overcome, how often he was cheated our of money, time, or property, as he began his quest for a home for his dream, an all-American breakfast restaurant in Paris. He visualized a place where those with an appetite for more than brie and croissant could eat their fill, and a spot where locals and tourists could mingle in harmony.

Et voila! Breakfast in America was born after ten grueling years of scrambling for donors, a location, and an electrician who would actually return until the job was completed. Think of Peter Mayle's hilarious, "A Year in Provence," written by a less curmudgeonly author, and that's what you'll get with Mr. Carlson, a man so open and trusting that he is ripe for the machinations of every crook or criminal in Paris. While we may envy the French for their generous pay and leave practices, Carlson explains how difficult it is to be an employer in such a generous country.

Still, against all odds, Carlson now has three phenomenally successful restaurants operating in Paris. Even better, I think, than discovering his inner entrepreneur, is the fact that he found the love of his life. After years of therapy and self-reflection, Carlson accepted that his fear of intimacy was related to his sexuality. Once he could come out and live an authentic life, everything else seemed to fall into place and I, for one, heaved a sigh of relief.

Thanks so much to Source Books for an advanced digital copy of this lovely book. If you adore all things French, traveling, resilience, and a modern love story too, then get yourself acquainted with Monsieur Craig. And next time you're in Paris, line up at Breakfast in America (no reservations accepted) and tell them a book reviewer sent you. The publication date is mid-September.

1 comment:

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