Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French

Bloomsbury Publishing USA
7
Free sample

Have you ever walked into a half-empty Parisian restaurant, only to be told that it's "complet"? Attempted to say "merci beaucoup" and accidentally complimented someone's physique? Been overlooked at the boulangerie due to your adherence to the bizarre foreign custom of waiting in line? Well, you're not alone. The internationally bestselling author of A Year in the Merde and In the Merde for Love has been there too, and he is here to help. In Talk to the Snail, Stephen Clarke distills the fruits of years spent in the French trenches into a truly handy (and hilarious) book of advice. Read this book, and find out how to get good service from the grumpiest waiter; be exquisitely polite and brutally rude at the same time; and employ the language of l'amour and le sexe. Everything you need is here in this funny, informative, and seriously useful guide to getting what you really want from the French.
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More by Stephen Clarke

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The author of A Year in the Merde and Talk to the Snail offers a highly biased and hilarious view of French history in this international bestseller.
 
Things have been just a little awkward between Britain and France ever since the Norman invasion in 1066. Fortunately—after years of humorously chronicling the vast cultural gap between the two countries—author Stephen Clarke is perfectly positioned to investigate the historical origins of their occasionally hostile and perpetually entertaining pas de deux.
 
Clarke sets the record straight, documenting how French braggarts and cheats have stolen credit rightfully due their neighbors across the Channel while blaming their own numerous gaffes and failures on those same innocent Brits for the past thousand years. Deeply researched and written with the same sly wit that made A Year in the Merde a comic hit, this lighthearted trip through the past millennium debunks the notion that the Battle of Hastings was a French victory (William the Conqueror was really a Norman who hated the French) and pooh-poohs French outrage over Britain’s murder of Joan of Arc (it was the French who executed her for wearing trousers). He also takes the air out of overblown Gallic claims, challenging the provenance of everything from champagne to the guillotine to prove that the French would be nowhere without British ingenuity.
 
Brits and Anglophiles of every national origin will devour Clarke’s decidedly biased accounts of British triumph and French ignominy. But 1000 Years of Annoying the French will also draw chuckles from good-humored Francophiles as well as “anyone who’s ever encountered a snooty Parisian waiter or found themselves driving on the Boulevard Périphérique during August” (The Daily Mail). A bestseller in Britain, this is an entertaining look at history that fans of Sarah Vowell are sure to enjoy, from the author the San Francisco Chronicle has called “the anti-Mayle . . . acerbic, insulting, un-PC, and mostly hilarious.”
A Year in the Merde is the almost-true account of the author's
adventures as an expat in Paris. Based on his own experiences and with
names changed to "avoid embarrassment, possible legal action-and to
prevent the author's legs being broken by someone in a Yves Saint
Laurent suit", the book is narrated by Paul West, a
twenty-seven-year-old Brit who is brought to Paris by a French company
to open a chain of British "tea rooms." He must manage of a group of
lazy, grumbling French employees, maneuver around a treacherous Parisian
boss, while lucking into a succession of lusty girlfriends (one of whom
happens to be the boss's morally challenged daughter). He soon becomes
immersed in the contradictions of French culture: the French are not all
cheese-eating surrender monkeys, though they do eat a lot of smelly
cheese, and they are still in shock at being stupid enough to sell
Louisiana, thus losing the chance to make French the global language.
The book will also tell you how to get the best out of the grumpiest
Parisian waiter, how to survive a French business meeting, and how not
to buy a house in the French countryside.

The author originally
wrote A Year in the Merde just for fun and self-published it in France
in an English-language edition. Weeks later, it had become a
word-of-mouth hit for expats and the French alike. With translation
rights now sold in eleven countries and already a bestseller in the UK
and France, Stephen Clarke is clearly a Bill Bryson (or a Peter
Mayle...) for a whole new generation of readers who can never quite
decide whether they love-or love to hate-the French.

3.1
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
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Published on
Dec 2, 2008
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781596917439
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / General
Travel / Europe / France
Travel / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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A Year in the Merde is the almost-true account of the author's
adventures as an expat in Paris. Based on his own experiences and with
names changed to "avoid embarrassment, possible legal action-and to
prevent the author's legs being broken by someone in a Yves Saint
Laurent suit", the book is narrated by Paul West, a
twenty-seven-year-old Brit who is brought to Paris by a French company
to open a chain of British "tea rooms." He must manage of a group of
lazy, grumbling French employees, maneuver around a treacherous Parisian
boss, while lucking into a succession of lusty girlfriends (one of whom
happens to be the boss's morally challenged daughter). He soon becomes
immersed in the contradictions of French culture: the French are not all
cheese-eating surrender monkeys, though they do eat a lot of smelly
cheese, and they are still in shock at being stupid enough to sell
Louisiana, thus losing the chance to make French the global language.
The book will also tell you how to get the best out of the grumpiest
Parisian waiter, how to survive a French business meeting, and how not
to buy a house in the French countryside.

The author originally
wrote A Year in the Merde just for fun and self-published it in France
in an English-language edition. Weeks later, it had become a
word-of-mouth hit for expats and the French alike. With translation
rights now sold in eleven countries and already a bestseller in the UK
and France, Stephen Clarke is clearly a Bill Bryson (or a Peter
Mayle...) for a whole new generation of readers who can never quite
decide whether they love-or love to hate-the French.

For fifteen years, humourist, writer, raconteur and generally funny man George East and his wife Donella lived in the remnants of an old water mill in the heart of Normandy's Cherbourg peninsula. The former night club bouncer, radio presenter, seamstress and professional bed tester's accounts of the couple's life and times in and around the tiny village of Nehou have been enjoyed by millions.This is the FOURTH book in the best-selling Mill of the Flea series, continuing the often farcical and always entertaining adventures of the author and his wife as they attempt to make a new life in rural France. In FRENCH FLEA BITES, new characters and bizarre situations encountered by our innocents abroad include a man who believes he died in 1979, a cat who becomes a werewolf at full moon, and a plan to turn a farmyard compost heap into Nehou's answer to the Millennium Dome. Totally unlike any other book in the genre, FRENCH FLEA BITES covers another eventful year for our hero and his wife as they stumble knee-deep through the rice pudding of their lives in darkest rural Normandy and at the Mill of the Flea. This episode introduces another galaxy of weird characters and situations - and a number of distinctly distinctive recipes, such as the favourite dishes of an (alleged) Ancient Egyptian god and his travelling companion! EVERY TYPE and age of reader from the confirmed Francophile (or Francophobe!) to the armchair adventurer...or anyone in search of a rattling good and very funny read will LOVE this book.Funny, clever, often poignant and always hugely entertaining. Above all, so true about life and people anywhere on the planet.As usual, George has given us his beautifully idiosyncratic view of life in rural France. As ever, it is very, very funny and achingly true throughout. For those with the ability to understand that observation is much more important than actuality, this is another masterclass in humanity...
Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans.

In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light. Gopnik is a longtime New Yorker writer, and the magazine has sent its writers to Paris for decades--but his was above all a personal pilgrimage to the place that had for so long been the undisputed capital of everything cultural and beautiful. It was also the opportunity to raise a child who would know what it was to romp in the Luxembourg Gardens, to enjoy a croque monsieur in a Left Bank café--a child (and perhaps a father, too) who would have a grasp of that Parisian sense of style we Americans find so elusive.

So, in the grand tradition of the American abroad, Gopnik walked the paths of the Tuileries, enjoyed philosophical discussions at his local bistro, wrote as violet twilight fell on the arrondissements. Of course, as readers of Gopnik's beloved and award-winning "Paris Journals" in The New Yorker know, there was also the matter of raising a child and carrying on with day-to-day, not-so-fabled life. Evenings with French intellectuals preceded middle-of-the-night baby feedings; afternoons were filled with trips to the Musée d'Orsay and pinball games; weekday leftovers were eaten while three-star chefs debated a "culinary crisis."

As Gopnik describes in this funny and tender book, the dual processes of navigating a foreign city and becoming a parent are not completely dissimilar journeys--both hold new routines, new languages, a new set of rules by which everyday life is lived. With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. "We went to Paris for a sentimental reeducation-I did anyway-even though the sentiments we were instructed in were not the ones we were expecting to learn, which I believe is why they call it an education."
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