Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Opening of the Novel: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

It is not what France gave you but what it did not take from you that was important. –Gertrude Stein

There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true. – Ernest Hemingway

Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.  Part of it was the war.  The world had ended once already and could again at any moment.  The war had come and changed us by happening when everyone said it couldn’t.  No one knew how many had died, but when you heard the numbers—nine million or fourteen million--you thought, Impossible.  Paris was full of ghosts and the walking wounded.  Many came back to Rouen or Oak Park, Illinois, shot through and carrying little pieces of what they’d seen behind their kneecaps, full of an emptiness they could never dislodge.  They’d carried bodies on stretchers, stepping over other bodies to do it; they’d been on stretchers themselves, on slow-moving trains full of flies and the floating voice of someone saying he wanted to be remembered to his girl back home.

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