My Paris

In My Paris, a Canadian writer lives in Paris for several months. She is there to take in the city and to write a diary. Much of her time is spent walking and sitting in cafés, watching the people and digesting the experience. As an apt metaphor, much of the diary is spent describing her experience of eating and drinking. She has friends and guests, but much of her time is spent alone. She is reading a history of Paris by Walter Benjamin, which serves as a touchstone for her synthesis of the history around her and her own experience. She writes of the buildings, the weather, films, the people and their fashions, and the lovers. She thinks of home, and compares her experience to everything “chez nous.”

The style is that of a diary, initials used to represent the people she knows, sentence fragments, a lot of French, and only the information or explanation that one would take down for one’s own purposes. As a result, the reader must come to her, and it can be a challenge to fill in the blanks. She is trying to come to terms with Paris for herself, and it is as if readers are reading a diary that was not meant to be read by others.

Although plagued by some depression and illness, her stay is positive and meaningful. As she is about to return home, she paints a vivid picture of how it feels to leave a place when you would rather stay, and how we try to take it with us “forever.”