vendredi, novembre 17, 2006

The French Joy of Sex

Dashing through the "new fiction" stacks of the Exton library in search of an interesting read one afternoon, I found a book by Stephen Clarke. "In the Merde For Love" read the cover with the subhead "By the author of 'A Year in the Merde.' " Most of you know that the French word "merde" means-most of you have probably used it. With a title like that, I realized that this probably was not going to be a romance novel. I didn't realize that it was going to be side-splittingly funny, lovingly satirical and totally absorbing. The basic plot of the two almost true "merde" books is this: young Englishman goes to the fabled city-Paris-in which he plans to open a British-style tea room. In his way or in his path: French bureaucrats, waiters, gendarmes...and a group of babelicious young women. The books are devoted to sending up the French way of life-they are also a hilarious retelling of his bedroom adventures. Clarke (remember, he is from England-a country known more for cricket than for hot sex) thoroughly enjoys his sexual exploits among the single, married, almost single and adulterous women of Paris, and he recounts them in a way that seduces us into enjoying them too. I recently had a chat with a friend in which he commented on the puritanical nature of our American attitudes towards sex. Helpless with mirth and frank envy of Clarke's ability to describe such a basic human activity in a way that is both disarming and enticing, I wondered if perhaps my pal was correct. What would happen if we stopped taking ourselves so seriously in the bedroom? It's a subversive notion, isn't it? Probably the worst that could happen is that we might start lingering over meals, engaging in long debates over politics, philosophy and love and taking month-long vacations. A weekend in Paris, anyone? Just write it off as continuing education.

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