A Year in the Merde
By: Stephen Clarke
I’ve always seen his books in the bookstores, was always amused by their covers, but I never got around to reading his book until recently. I always thought his book was more nonfictional than fictional (then again, I noticed his book close to the travel section in Indigo’s, which didn’t mean much). But anyways, the book follows the story of Paul West, a English businessman who was invited by a French business owner to open a series of British tea room franchise in Paris. Paul figures why not and goes for it, figuring it’d be a piece of cake. Little does he know what he’s really in for: constant strikes, fellow employees whose work ethics are completely different from what he’s used to, a series of women he just can’t really understand and a boss who isn’t all that he appears to be. The book follows his adventures from Septembre to Mai, chronicling his encounters and the contrasts in French culture. It’s an amusing read, perfect if you’re taking a break from a string of hefty reads. My favourite aspect of this novel was the narrative; it’s written in Paul’s point of view, so the way in which he describes his surroundings and his experiences and his use of analogies to aid him in this are what I think makes this book as hilarious as it is.