Wednesday, September 21, 2011


A friend of mine recently returned from a European vacation. Prior to her departure, I told her that if she was in Paris that she should visit the historic Shakespeare and Company bookstore. She did and returned with an unexpected, but joyfully accepted, gift for me: a copy of the fourth issue of The Paris Magazine.

The Paris Magazine was conceived as "The poor man's Paris Review" by it's founder George Whitman. That seems to have been achieved. It was also conceived of as a quarterly literary journal. In that aspect it is a huge failure. Only four issues have been published over the past forty-four years—in 1967, 1984, 1989, and 2010.

Issue number four is equal parts literary journal and bookstore promotion. It contains pieces by literary authors and poets such as Michel Houellebecq, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Luc Sante, and Todd McEwen. It also contains a brief look at the bookstore, the magazine, and George Whitman by his daughter, and successor, Sylvia, as well as "tumbleweed diaries" by wandering writers who have spent the night in the store during their travels.

Therefore, the magazine functions as souvenir, historical document, homage, literary journal, snapshot of a particular time (2010, 2011), descendent in a lineage of European writing. And now, as cherished object, reading material, thought provoker.

I delve deeper within its rich pages...

No comments: