Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reminiscences from Paris

La librairie des Jardins des Tuileries, Musée du Louvre

In remembering the wonderful whirl of events in France of last spring, I am chagrined to find no mention of certain remarkable engagements in the Bay Area earlier in the year.  Time has been running away.

It’s been fascinating to see how one talk has led to another.  It has been my extremely good fortune to make presentations at the Mechanics’ Institute Library in San Francisco on both my books about France.  For over a century after providing essential resources for reconstructing the city after the 1906 earthquake, a wonderfully preserved building still serves as a cornerstone for the community.  

A versatile gathering room on the 4th floor allows a wonderful conversation with the audience.  Upon entering the long room, the guest is greeted with a glass of wine at the back bar.  Arrays of comestibles line the table at the window, to be savored at nearby café tables.  Rows of chairs face the front where the speaker holds forth with microphone, computer and screen.

It was at my talk on Champagne Regained at Mechanics’ Institute Library event that a most fortunate occurrence took place.  In the audience that evening was a woman who had borrowed materials on Slovenia to plan a trip there.  That event offered us a chance to pass back the books, but this delightful new friend then booked me for two of the most stunning venues in northern California.  In Berkeley at the Town and Gown and in San Francisco at the Town and Country, book lovers congregated in a historic auditorium designed by Julia Morgan and an exquisitely appointed salon facing Union Square, respectively.   

Later in the spring I was privileged to give a talk that marked the end of an era at Orinda Books in the East Bay.  A bright new ownership took over from one of the area’s most revered literary centers.  Here’s wishing every success in all the new ventures.

I hope that you, Dear Reader, will forgive chronological deficiencies.  As I sit here in a first moment of quiet contemplation in many moons, I feel like Proust eating a mound of madeleines – such a wealth of souvenirs.

Trying to decipher the French-Slovenian-American book trade has brought eye-rubbing experiences overall.  What a golden chain still bands us together despite all onslaughts to the written word!   Discoveries related to the research perhaps can be expected, but the riches gained from dealing with bibliophiles defy quantification. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

To be a Bibliophile in France

Soprano Marci Meth’s melodious trills in the exquisite Hôtel le Marois prompted memories of an earlier Stanford event in France, also superbly crafted by Maria Adle.  Last May, in the elegant, wooded estate of Les Crayères, yours truly presented the Champagne Regained book to a delightful and erudite group that had flown to Reims from Italy, Germany and Switzerland.  The next morning Reims Mayor Arnaud Robinet treated the set to a lovely reception in a stunning City Hall salon.

Although the tour continued with other Champagne-related activities, Michèle lablache Combier’s bookshop in Sceaux beckoned us back to Paris.  Every space in her Page 1 nook is so packed with fascination that this oasis draws a faithful following from far and wide.  Upon entering we were greeted by a small round table stacked high with both Parks and Gardens in Greater Paris and Champagne Regained books and spent the afternoon chatting with an enthusiastic clientele.

We first met Maria Adle at a Stanford author event where I was signing Parks and Gardens in Greater Paris books.  For our next trip to Paris she arranged an evening at the Rodin Museum and Gardens that included my book presentation in the enchanting garden café. 

Great thanks to Maria from all her myriad Stanford fans.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Welcome Reception at the Reims City Hall by 
Mayor and Deputy Arnaud Robinet with 
Stanford event organizer Maria Adle Besson

Page 1 Bookstore, Sceaux, France