Tuesday 9 January 2024

THE PARIS WRITERS' SALON - John Baxter and Samuel Lopez-Barrantes take a new look at one of the most complex districts of the city Montmartre.

John Baxter writes: For the first Paris Writers Salon of the new year, Samuel Lopez -Barrantes and I take a new look at one of the most complex districts of the city Montmartre. I hope you’ll join us. 

Salon No. 12: Montmartre from A to ? Every Sunday at 7pm CET 

One of Paris’s newest additions  – it only became part of the city in 1860 – Montmartre is, at the same time, among its most ancient districts and its most modern: the home of surrealists and prostitutes, drug dealers and visionaries, martyrs and miscreants. We’ve chosen three books that show different aspects of Montmartre’s numerous facets, delving into history and crime, love and politics, the sacred and the profane.

Sunday, January 21

Inspector Maigret & the Strangled Stripper by Georges Simenon (1950)

Simenon is among the great stylists of the roman policier and his Inspector Maigret one of the genre’s most durable creations. In this translation of Maigret au ‘Pikratt’s’, he investigates the murder of an “exotic dancer” and a mysterious Countess at the seedy Montmartre nightclub of the title. Expect a Montmartre very different from today’s tourist mecca.

Sunday, January 28

Last Words From Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin (1996) 

NY Review of Books: “When the pioneering Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin committed suicide in 1995 at age twenty-six, she left behind her unpublished masterpiece, Last Words from Montmartre. Unfolding through a series of letters written by an unnamed narrator, Last Words tells the story of a passionate relationship between two young women—their sexual awakening, their gradual breakup, and the devastating aftermath of their broken love [….] The letters display wrenching insights into what it means to live between cultures, languages, and genders—until the genderless character Zoë appears, and the narrator’s spiritual and physical identity is transformed.”

Sunday, February 4

Montmartre: Paris’s Village of Art & Sin by John Baxter (2017)

Everyone knows about Pablo Picasso and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec but who was Louise Michel, the Red Virgin of the Commune, after whom the square in front of the Sacre Coeur cathedral is named? Visit the Cabaret of Nothingness, where one drank at tables made from coffins under candelabra of human bones, and the Bal des Quatz’Arts where, once a year, artists and models let down their hair (and everything else). Harry Crosby turned up wearing a necklace of dead pigeons. Film director Luis Buñuel dressed as a nun, but a reporter was barred as over-dressed. A sympathetic student suggested he come back in his underpants.  Only in Montmartre…

Sunday, February 11

Open Forum Salon

As usual, the last session opens up to thoughts and suggestions. If earlier salons are any guide, the conversation will range far and wide and provide a lively discussion to bookend the seventh rendition of the Paris Writers’ Salon.

For bookings & inquiries: john@johnbaxterparis.com

John Baxter (above) 
is an Australian-born writer, scholar, critic and film-maker who has lived in Paris since 1989. The many books he has written include the first ever critical volume devoted to the Australian cinema as well as studies of Ken Russell, Josef von Sternberg, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, Federico Fellini, George Lucas, Robert De Niro, Luis Bunuel and a number of studies of Paris. His most recent book is a biography of Charles Boyer: The French Lover  (University of Kentucky Press, 2021)

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