Author Archives: maristed

Parallel Lives in Paris

Is any other major city as starkly, yet silently, divided as Paris?  Not brawling London, not in-your-face New York. I recall also my teenage years in West Berlin before the Wall came down. There, on both sides, despite official enmity and opposing socio-economic scaffolding, intense curiosity reigned about how the ‘other half’ really lived. Letters […]

May 1st: A Hard Rain on The Parade

May 1st has forever been a big day in France. Long before the invention of trade unions (credited today to the USA by a Paris radio station!) and street demonstrations, it was a day of festivities and magic. Pots and bunches of lilies of the valley are sold on street corners now as centuries ago, […]

Brushs and Pens

Any denizen of France will tell you: Certes, Athens, Florence and a few other cities had their moments, but Paris has reigned as the Western wellspring and magnet for arts and artists for centuries. The influence of French visual art, music and literature reaches beyond Euro-America into Asia and Africa, while drawing freely from those […]

when joie-de-vivre turns surreal

ONE RIDER DOWN With at least one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Trump, Putin, Orban, Erdogan, Modi et al.) knocked out of his saddle this morning, the world looks a little less damned. The Amazon can breathe! My intent yesterday was to ignore politics completely in this letter, but the defeat of Boss Bolsonaro […]

PdV looks into two French books

Not surprisingly with a political flavor. Dear readers in French, have you read Aneantir? Your thoughts? BOOK REVIEWS WORLD LITERATURE TODAY Michel Houellebecq, Political Animal? July 12, 2022 by Kai Maristed According to Christian Authier, himself a prizewinning novelist and recently the author of Houellebecq politique(Flammarion, 2022), Michel Houellebecq is “uncontestably the major [French] writer of […]


At a few minutes past 8 p.m., in Nice, the multiple knots in pointdevue’s tummy are unwinding. Around midday rumors were swirling (fed by Belgian TV) that the race looked too close to call. I wandered around town, restless and anxious, with a real touch of vertigo. Too much at stake to list here at […]

Election Fever–or Election Panic?

Only the speechifiers, with a p.a. system at their disposal, can make themselves heard over the deafening drumbeats and burst of song from hundred of militant throats. These are festive militants enjoying the national tradition of taking to the streets (thank god yesterday’s rain is over!) many in clownish costumes or yellow vests. But all […]