Monday, July 27, 2009
A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke
France is a romantic country. Paris is the epicentre of business, long lunches, the Eiffel Tower and everything totally French; and Peter West should know. He's an Englishman who's accepted a job there for a year; and has he got a lot to learn! Firstly, the year doesn't start in January, like it does for the rest of the world; nope! It begins in September, when everyone comes back from a month's holiday away from the city. And a holiday to the average Parisian is anything which is over 10 kilometres outside the city limits of Paris.
After Peter's first month of working with a team of people who barely spoke English to him - yet went against him every step of the way in developing a name for a whole selection of tearooms to be opened up in France - he found that trying to mix with the Europeans was going to be harder than he first thought. After all, he had another 11 months to go to make this work.
Stephen Clarke was born in Bournemouth where he played in some bands for a while before he studied German and French at Oxford University. After completing his courses, he did some grape-picking and was a dish-washer in a German hotel and he taught some French businessmen English. While doing all this, he was writing some books; which never got published due to some problems in the publishing world. Stephen then moved to Glasgow where he was hired to put some rude words in French dictionaries (no, seriously, folks!). He moved to Paris and got a job as a journalist at an English-language magazine. He was still writing fiction and decided to finally self-publish through his own (fictional) company. Stephen Clarke has written three more books following on from 'A Year in the Merde'.