On March 3, which happens to be my father’s birthday, Totally Killer was published in French. Three weeks later, at the invitation of my publisher, Éditions Gallmeister, I flew to Paris to kick off a five-day, two-city book tour.

I expected to visit a few librairies, attempt to read from François Happe’s superb translation of the book without my tongue falling out, and be back in my hotel room by ten every night. I expected to get a lot of reading done. I expected to take long hot baths. I expected to see the sights. I expected no one to have read the book. I expected to be pretty much ignored.

Let’s just say my expectations were exceeded in the best possible way.

I was too busy meeting booksellers, inscribing books, decrying capitalist exploitation, and trying to remember the difference between envie de and besoin de to pay much attention to Twitter. (Plus, Twitterific didn’t work on my iPhone. #twitterificfail)

So here, then, a month late, are tweets I would have tweeted were I tweeting while in France. (Note: My brain does not have a 140-character counter, so if some of these run a touch long…c’est la vie.)

 

 

PREMIÈRE PARTIE: PARIS

 

1. Mardi/mercredi, le vol

 

Can the contrast between the point of departure and point of arrival be more stark than Newark to Paris direct? The City of Lights from the City of Raw Sewage.

 

* * *

 

Boarding the plane, the pre-flight stress behind me, I’m suddenly overcome with emotion. It hits me: I’m going to France—fucking France!—on a book tour! Me! Somewhere my French teacher is smiling. My English teacher, too.

 

* * *

 

No one’s sitting next to me! Cool. I can totally stretch out.

 

* * *

 

This Whiskey Brothers podcast is funny.

 

* * *

 

Air France is not stingy with the vino. Or the Champagne.

 

* * *

 

The flight attendant and the pilot speak French (duh). I shall have to break out my un peu Français soon. Zut alors!

 

* * *

 

Philippe, my editor, meets me at the airport. He identifies himself by waving around a poster of the Totally Killer cover. There is a French word for the kind of cajones it requires to wave around a poster of a gun at an airport. That word is chutzpah.

 

* * *

 

Philippe is wearing a hip t-shirt, jeans, cool glasses, and a corduroy blazer. I am wearing a hip t-shirt, jeans, cool glasses, and a corduroy blazer. This is the first clue that Philippe and I have a lot in common.

 

* * *

 

“There has been a change in the schedule,” he tells me. From the level of apology in his voice, I’m certain the TV interview (which I’d bragged about on Facebook) has been kibboshed—but no. “The interview with Radio RFI is off. She really wants to do it, but she can’t, because they are on strike.” Bienvenue à France!

 

* * *

 

I haven’t slept since Monday night New York time, and it’s now Wednesday morning in Paris. No way I make it through the day without a serious power nap. But what hotel will check me in at nine in the morning? Fortunately, Marie-Anne, my publicist, has thought of this, and arranged for me to check in early. This is the first clue that Marie-Anne is really kick-ass at her job.

 

* * *

 

Snowing in New Jersey, but 68 and sunny here. Paris, je t’aime.

 

* * *

 

The Hotel de la Sorbonne is a small and quiet inn right across the street from the eponymous French university. The Pantheon is a block away. I can walk to Notre Dame from here, easy. Of more exigent importance, there is a bed. J’ai fatigue. J’ai besoin de zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

 

 

 

 

2. Mercredi, l’après midi

 

 

There’s a bookstore every other block here. I’m not even exaggerating. There are more bookstores than bars, seems like. And in almost all of them, there’s my book, often in the window, usually prominently placed, sometimes with a note of endorsement from the bookseller.

 

 

 

* * *

 

Let me reflect on the enormity of that for a moment: My book is in almost every bookstore in Paris. I honestly don’t even know how to process this.

 

* * *

 

Also of note: how often the word art is used here. So many buildings, museums, streets, shops, all with art or arts in the title.

 

* * *

 

The streets of Paris are named after writers. In New York, city of bankers, the streets are either numbered or bear the surnames of the aristocratic dead.

 

* * *

 

I meet Marie-Anne and Philippe for lunch at a restaurant hidden above a cinema that is said to be owned by Catherine Deneuve. I have a double espresso.

 

* * *

 

Marie-Anne reminds me of my friend Ruth. This means nothing to you (unless you’re Ruth; hi, Ruth!), but to me, it means I can relax and let her do her thing. Both Marie-Anne and Ruth are really really good at Getting Shit Done.

 

* * *

 

Marie-Anne walks really fast. I walk fast, too—I lived in New York for ten years; I don’t mosey—but wow, can she fly.

 

* * *

 

Craig Johnson” sounds funny when spoken with a French accent. (Craig is the author of Little Bird, also published by Gallmeister).

 

* * *

 

To the 16eme Arrondisement, and the broadcast headquarters of France24, a relatively new cable news network in the manner of CNN. “There are 23 million viewers,” I’m told. That’s how many Facebook fans I have, give or take 23 million.

 

* * *

 

I’m getting my makeup done (!) when a production assistant comes in and tells me that the show has been revamped. “Elizabeth Taylor just died,” she said. “I don’t know if you knew that.” I didn’t. My first thought: Duke should write about that.

 

* * *

 

Katherine Nicholson—Kat—is the host, and she will be interviewing me. She’s very nice. She tells me she just finished the book, and she really liked it, especially all the pop cultural references.

 

 

* * *

 

Forgot to mention: Kat is British. For some reason, after a day of calibration for French and French-accented English, a British accent sounds almost like a different language.

 

* * *

 

Kat does two takes. On one, she pronounces the “r” at the end of “Killer”. It sounds cooler when she drops it: totally kill-uh. They go with that one.

 

* * *

 

Eight minute interview gone in the blink of an eye. I manage to sit still and not use “like” or “uh” too much. Also, my hair looks good.

 

* * *

 

“There’s one thing about the book. I didn’t want to say it on the air,” Kat says. I’m all, uh-oh. She says, “The phone on the cover? That’s from the mid-90s, not 1991!”

 

* * *

 

Back to the hotel to rest up for the party at Philippe’s apartment.

 

* * *

 

Writing the first TNB postcard. I hope this works…

 

 

 

 

3. Mercredi, le soir

 

 

Marie-Anne fetches me at the hotel. We cab across town, to Montmartre, Pigalle, and the 18eme Arrondisement. The hip part of town.

 

* * *

 

The cab stops in front of Le Moulin Rouge. I mean, there’s the fucking windmill, right there! I feel like I should burst into song. Hey sisters soul sisters gotta get that dough sisters…

 

 

 

* * *

 

Philippe and Anne, his wife, have a to-die-for apartment. Super-high ceilings, spacious rooms, oversized windows overlooking the side street where they live, huge bookshelves teaming with books, and really cool art on the walls.

 

* * *

 

I am looking at the books on Philippe’s shelves. It is clear to me why he bought my book, as we have the same exact taste in books. It’s like someone has teleported my bookcases to Pigalle. (I suspect Richard Cox).

 

* * *

 

Todd’s “Taylor Mix,” the one on the first page of Totally Killer, is playing on the stereo.

 

* * *

 

I meet Oliver, my publisher. He is carrying a box of wine into the vestibule. And not a case of wine—a cardboard box full of wine, in which the bottles are stacked one on top of the other, like socks. Talk about an entrance!

 

* * *

 

Philippe whips up quite the pasta salad.

 

* * *

 

“We don’t publish books we like,” Oliver tells me, patting my back. “We don’t have time for that. We put out ten books a year; we only publish books we love.”

 

* * *

 

The apartment begins to fill up. The Gallmeister crew: Oliver, Mary-Anne, Katarina (who is from St. Petersburg), and of course Philippe; Anne; and twenty or so Parisian booksellers.

 

* * *

 

I am expecting them to regard me as an arriviste. I am expecting them to regard me with suspicion. I am expecting them to make for the wine and the cheese and ignore me entirely.

 

* * *

 

I can’t believe how many of them have read the book! I can’t believe how many of them like it! I can’t believe how much French I can understand!

 

* * *

 

When your work is being complimented, your fluency jumps up a notch right quick.

 

* * *

 

One of the booksellers, a beautiful and hip woman named Sophie, is wearing the coolest ring I’ve ever seen. It’s basically a jagged piece of broken mirror on a ring. I want to get one like that for Stephanie! I compliment her on the ring, in my best French, which falls somewhere between “un peu” and “repeating ça va over and over.”

 

* * *

 

In France, it is against the law to sell a book for less than a slight percentage less than the price listed on the jacket. (Talk about prix fixé!). What this means is, a mega-box-store—or an Amazon—can’t kill off the indies by selling books at enormous volume discounts.

 

* * *

 

What this means is, indie booksellers are protected by the government from huge monolithic corporations underselling them into extinction.

 

* * *

 

Vive la socialisme!

 

* * *

 

“That would never fly in America,” I say. “To us, capitalism and the free market must be defended against all opposition—even if said opposition is The Good of All Humanity.” In the USA, our motto is shareholders über alles.

 

* * *

 

The French government is like the Lorax, and the price regulation is an edict protecting the Truffula trees/bookstores from the brutal ax of Once-lerian capitalism.

 

* * *

 

“Once-ler” is almost an anagram of “Olear.”

 

* * *

 

I ask Philippe and Katarina what Oliver’s last name is. “Gallmeister,” they say, and they both laugh at me.

 

* * *

 

I ask about politics. Everyone knows who George W. Bush is, and that he is an asshole, but Dick Cheney is more of an unknown. I enlighten them.  “He is a walking example of eminence grise,” I say.

 

* * *

 

Q. How do you make a Frenchman make a face like someone just broke wind? A. Ask how he feels about Sarkozy.

 

* * *

 

Q. How do you make a Frenchman flee in horror? A. Ask about Marine Le Pen.

 

* * *

 

If Sarah Palin were French, blonde, smart, dignified, classy, able to connect with a broader group of people, and the daughter of a perennial far-right political candidate, her name would be Marine Le Pen. Sarko is toast and she’s running; people are afraid.

 

 

 

* * *

 

I keep waiting for some other writer to show up. It’s hard to believe these people are here for me.

 

* * *

 

I give a short speech. I thank Philippe and Anne for hosting, and Oliver and Marie-Anne for coordinating. I thank the booksellers for coming. I tell them it’s an honor to be here. I tell them I love France. Then Oliver makes a few jokes, and the party continues.

 

* * *

 

I ask Sophie where she got the ring, explaining that I want to get one for my wife. “My friend made it,” she says. “When are you going back? I can see if she can make her one.” But Sunday is too soon.

 

* * *

 

So Sophie—lovely, amazing Sophie—gives me her ring to give to Stephanie! (I offer to pay for it, but she won’t let me). “My friend will make a new one, and she’ll be glad someone is wearing it in New York.”

 

* * *

 

Sophie, you are awesome.

 

* * *

 

Oliver doesn’t believe me. He (sagely) makes sure the gift is really a gift and not a translation error.  He makes sure I’m not making a…what is the French word for faux pas?

 

* * *

 

I met Emmanuelle, my sub-agent, who is directly responsible for me being here.  God bless you, Emmanuelle.

 

* * *

 

The others are sitting in a circle, all but Oliver smoking, arguing about the future of books, publishing, the price fix law, literature in general, in France. I’m tired, and I’m not fluent to begin with, so I only understand a few words here and there, but it’s fascinating to watch them talk.

 

* * *

 

The (friendly) argument is mostly between Oliver and a man named Sebastian, who has an incredibly expressive face. He gesticulates liberally as he makes his points. I love watching him talk.

 

* * *

 

The party winds down. Wednesday night, and I don’t get back to the hotel room until 2 am.

 

 

 

3. Jeudi, l’après midi

 

 

I sleep till noon. Longest uninterrupted sleep I’ve had in quite some time. A few hours to walk around the city before the radio interview.

 

* * *

 

Everything comes with salad here. Croque madame, steak frites, escargots. Salad is like the French French fry.

 

* * *

 

The waiter is furious for no apparent reason (fortunately, he’s not furious at me). I would totally watch a reality show that just filmed French waiters at work.

 

* * *

 

The architecture in Paris is homogeneous, much of it built in the same style, at the same time, and imposing in its unquestionable beauty and ostentation. Like every building in the city is wearing a tuxedo. The same palette: an off-white, faded by the elements and yellowed by cigarette smoke.

 

* * *

 

That’s why the Eiffel Tower is so amazing: it couldn’t be more different than the prevailing architecture of the city. It’s like this roller coaster-like monument to science fiction dominating the skyline.

 

* * *

 

Notre Dame looks like a spaceship. It does.

 

* * *

 

Lots of students milling around. No one is fat, and no one is emaciated. Healthy figures, devil-may-care coiffure, black and gray and dark blue clothes, funky glasses, cigarettes going. I love it.

 

* * *

 

No one smokes inside restaurants or hotels, but outside, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Even Zidane, arguably the greatest French athlete, smokes.

 

* * *

 

I have a man-crush on Zidane. (In English, this would be a good joke, but I’m not sure how to convey the subtlety in French, so I keep it to myself.)

 

* * *

 

At the pharmacie, I find a bottle of Klorane, the best shampoo on earth. Score!

 

* * *

 

My cell phone rings, startling me. Unknown caller. Who the hell is calling me? It’s a man’s voice. I panic; I’m sure it’s Oliver, and I’ve overslept and missed the radio interview.

 

* * *

 

It’s Nat Missildine, ringing from Dijon!

 

* * *

 

He has an ever-so-slight French timbre in his voice. This pissing-in-the-violin stuff is a ruse, I think; he speaks French just fine. He is—and this will come as a shock to no one—very nice.

 

* * *

 

“Don’t tip the waiters!” he says at the end of our chat.

 

* * *

 

Off to do the radio interview!

 

* * *

 

Odile Barski, my fellow radio guest, is incredibly elegant. She wears red fingerless gloves and a matching scarf, and her bearing is downright regal. She would be a perfect Lydia Murtomaki in the French film of Totally Killer.

 

* * *

 

I resist the urge to make a “Are you Banksy?” joke to Madame Barksi.

 

* * *

 

Odile says she’s read my book and she really enjoyed it. Is she just saying that to be nice? Something tells me no. Her IMDB page is a mile long—even longer than Duke’s.

 

* * *

 

This is a live broadcast, in French. I will have a translator, who will whisper in my ear as Tewfik Hakem, the affable host, speaks. She will then translate what I say as I say it. So I should talk slowly. No pressure.

 

* * *

 

Tewfik is around my age. He’s wearing jeans, a white t-shirt, and a sweater vest. He says he likes the book and is looking forward to discussing it.

 

* * *

 

“We will play Elvis Costello for you at the end of the segment,” Tewfik says.

 

* * *

 

Okay, this whole translation thing is VERY hard. You have to actively not listen to the person talking to you, making eye contact with you, and instead listen to the person whispering in your ear.

 

* * *

 

Why is it that at any live event, I always feel the need to burp really loud? A Tums, a Tums, my kingdom for a Tums!

 

 


 

What’s really difficult about this is, I can understand French just well enough to get what Tewfik is saying. Which means I have to just ignore him and tune him out to make this work. This would have been easier if he were speaking Japanese.

 

* * *

 

We are just talking about thrillers. All around the world, ambassadors from countries are communicating this way about nuclear arms and ceasefire treaties. I have a whole new respect for diplomats.

 

* * *

 

Tewfik seems to have really enjoyed the book.

 

* * *

 

Phew, that’s done. And here comes the Elvis: photographs and fancy tricks, to get your kicks at sixty-six…

 

* * *

 

“Fathermucker” does not translate into French. Hanging out after the broadcast, Tewfik asks me about my new book. “It’s called, what, Motherfucker?”

 

* * *

 

Back to the hotel, to interview with two bloggers. Or, as they are called in French, bloggeurs (accent on the second syllable).

 

* * *

 

Nicholas interviews me for his blog. He asks about The Nervous Breakdown. He thinks it’s great. He would like to do something similar in France.

 

* * *

 

I am explaining the inherent problem with the capitalist system: that it is finite. Its success depends on worker exploitation, and one of these decades, we’ll run out of workers to exploit. And then where will we be? Nicholas nods in furious agreement.

 

* * *

 

Marie-Anne and I walk to the bar where we will meet a group of bloggeurs. This involves going past Notre Dame. And going past it really quickly, because she walks really fast, as discussed. Did I mention it’s hot today? It’s hot today.

 

* * *

 

The event is on the second floor of a bar called Étages. I order a Champagne cocktail, because they have them, and because that’s what Victor Laszlo ordered at Rick’s Café Americain.

 

* * *

 

Louis Renault, one of the greatest characters in the history of cinema, and speaker of some of the best-known lines (“I’m shocked, shocked,” “Round up the usual suspects”): a Frenchman.

 

* * *

 

“Speak French if you can,” Marie-Anne says, as I introduce myself to the assembled bloggeurs (there are about a dozen, I think, who were good enough to come out).

 

* * *

 

“Oh, do you speak French?” asks Laurent, one of the bloggeurs, whose English is terrific (he worked in New York for awhile). “Un peu,” I announce.

 

* * *

 

Wow, a lot of the bloggeurs have read the book! And everyone who’s read it seems to have enjoyed it.

 

* * *

 

C’est vrai—je parle Français maintenant. That’s right. I’m getting’ my French on.  Somewhere, my high school French teacher is cringing.


 

* * *

 

You know the guy who wins for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars and goes up to the podium and thanks the Academy in painfully slow and stilted English? I have enormous sympathy for that guy right now.

 

* * *

 

What I’m doing is, I’m trying to use English words that sound like they might be cognates, and pronouncing them like Maurice Chevalier. I just used the word erudite. The bloggeurs were impressed.

 

* * *

 

Talking about the new book—I defer to Philippe a bit here—I have to use the word motherfucker to explain the title. Fortunately, no one seems offended.

 

* * *

 

You know what this is? This is a book club meeting. The Totally Killer book club meeting. How many American novelists can claim that the first time they visited a book club to discuss a book they’d written, it was in Paris and they had to speak French?


 

* * *

 

The bloggeurs are great! I hope they write nice things about me. (Mental note: Google yourself in French when you get home).

 

* * *

 

The bloggeur party ends, and we head for a late dinner at a small, busy restaurant a few blocks away. Laurent joins us. The waiter looks like he walked out of a movie from the 1970s that Duke would write a TNB post about. He has the best glasses ever.

 

* * *

 

I love watching the waiters.  I really want that reality show.

 

* * *

 

Casting the French movie of Totally Killer (which would go down in Paris instead of New York). Marie-Anne wants Jude Law as Asher; Philippe and I shoot this down. I propose Romain Duris. “Too short,” Philippe says. But he looks the part.

 

* * *

 

“Sara Forestier would play Taylor,” Marie-Anne says, pronouncing the surname like it’s the Subaru model. “Sara Forester? She’s French? Because she sounds like she’s from Wisconsin.” “No, no, she’s French.”  She shows me Forestier’s picture on her iPhone.  I’m sold.

 

* * *

 

“Do you want wine?” Philippe asks. Mais oui! I’m in France, for Pete sake! Wine me!

 

* * *

 

Steak frites! And more salad.

 

* * *

 

It’s almost midnight, and the evening comes to an end. Laurent says, “You know, your French is better than en peu.” I tell him I’m using that as a blurb.

 

* * *

 

Last night at the Hotel de la Sorbonne. Tomorrow, after petit-dejeuner with my friend Melissa (“Breakfast is the new drinks,” she’ll tell me), it’s off to Lyon for the Quais du Polar Festival International and more adventures.  But it is already clear that Éditions Gallmeister is formidable, magnifique, superb, and other not-false cognates, and that I lucked out with my publisher.



 

Next time: La Deuxième Partie…The Kings of Lyon.


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GREG OLEAR is the Los Angeles Times bestselling author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker and founding editor of The Weeklings.

77 responses to “Les pensées inexprimés, ou, Tweets I’d’ve Tweeted Had I Tweeted in France”

  1. D.R. Haney says:

    A few tweets of my own:

    Yeah, there aren’t many places that come to the top of my head where a great many streets are named for artists.

    I think Romain Duris would make a great Asher. But of course I think Romain Duris is great, period.

    I forget: Did you ever watch “The Beat that My Heart Skipped”?

    Did you really think I should write about Elizabeth Taylor after she died? That’s kind of scary.

    Hey, I just used italics in my tweets! Thanks, Greg!

    I hope no one clicks on that link to a certain IMDb page.

    Is Marine Le Pen the one who posed naked for the French edition of “Playboy”?

    No, that was Le Pen’s ex-wife. Marine must be his daughter.

    Only in France would a Sarah Palin type have something of a brain.

    Kat Nicholson is way cool. Really. I liked her style as an interviewer.

    I love all the pictures of you being all bohemian and stuff.

    I love the pics, period.

    I’m incredibly jealous. I hate you.

    No, I don’t. All writers should have this kind of experience.

    It doesn’t happen much, if at all, in America.

    I’m a little tweeted out at the moment. I may have more when I’ve rested.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Oh, one more (for now)! Your Postcard from France #3 is, like, the most popular post ever on TNB.

      • Greg Olear says:

        Yes, it got like 700 comments, all of them ads for Cialis. “Postcard” and “France” in some combination are apparently code for erectile disfunction in whatever former Soviet republic those phantom posts originate in.

    • Greg Olear says:

      An extravagantly long post by me, followed by two comments from you…it’s like 2009 all over again!

      No, I didn’t think that about you and Liz Taylor. I was more worried about not fucking up the interview.

      I still need to watch “The Beat My Heart Skipped.” We’ve been delinquent in our film viewing of late, because Dom goes to bed so late, there’s not enough time for a feature-length picture before our own bedtime. Hopefully this is a phase…

    • Oh Duke — this is perfect. All comments should cease to exist after this….

  2. D.R. Haney says:

    And:

    Hooray for the following!

    “What this means is, indie booksellers are protected by the government from huge monolithic corporations underselling them into extinction.”

    Vive la France!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Seriously. I don’t know why the notion that corporations and stock prices are more important that literally anything else has come to dominate American culture to the degree it has. It’s sickening, really.

  3. Ha ha! I love that he’s waving around the cover with the gun at the airport! And fascinating about trying to do the interview with the translator. Mostly, I’m just thrilled with how you and your book were treated there!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Sue. Philippe is the bomb, as we say (but never at airports).

      There were also translators in Lyon, at the festival…but the story of how I happened to be the only dude on the panel about femme fatales and feminism will have to wait for the second installment.

  4. Dana says:

    Awesome Greg! It appears you had a brilliant time. Seeing your book in all the shops is so exciting!
    And who knew the French could be so hospitable?

    Congratulations!!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Dana. I actually forgot that they have that reputation. Seriously, I was overwhelmed by how nice everyone was. (It helped, of course, that I didn’t have to communicate directly with cabbies, waiters, hotel employees, etc., for the duration of the stay).

  5. People tell me I’ve developed something of a French timbre, though I don’t believe them. Probably depends on the day. Usually the gap between myself and Louis Renault is enormous, other days I feel like I could maybe, possibly be getting closer. If only I could have ended our conversation by saying something as clever as “I like think to that you killed a man, it’s the romantic in me.”

    I’m glad you used the cognate trick when speaking French, sometimes you can just pick the higher register synonym of a word and it works (like “facile” instead of “easy”). But then too much reliance cognates and you find yourself in trouble (using “pipe” when it can mean “blowjob”).

    Marine Le Pen, thankfully, doesn’t have the charisma and wit of her father though. That guy is still dangerous, because he’s always the most entertaining person in the roundtable discussion, even while you hate everything he’s saying. His daughter though is just as vulgaire as their ideas. The hope is that this is plain to everyone, but there are a number of candidates who could eventually make people nostalgic for Sarkozy and his 20% approval rating. Maybe she’ll move to Alaska.

    “When your work is being complimented, your fluency jumps up a notch right quick.” Nice.

    Sounds like a great trip. Next time I’ll have to surprise you out of nowhere by showing up in the street with a case of Côte de Beaune.

    • Greg Olear says:

      It’s not an accent…it’s almost like your voice is used to being used that way…like when you comb your hair a certain way for so many years, it assumes that shape even without product.

      Seriously, I said “erudite” so beautifully (err-you-DEET-uh) that there was oohing and aahing. I was so pleased. It was the linguistic highlight of the trip.

      Marine Le Pen fascinates me. It’s almost Shakespearean, the way the old man’s policies are so ugly, the only person he can find to take over his position is his own kid. I asked a lot of people about Sarkozy. No one likes him. They don’t hate him, I think, as much as they’re disgusted and/or disappointed.

      And I will take you up on that Côte de Beaune (and Oliver would approve).

  6. James D. Irwin says:

    I’ve never wanted to visit France more than I do right now. I’ve been a few times, but it sounds even better than I remember. And safer than it looks in that Neeson film.

    I also wish I’d carried on trying to learn French after school. It’s probably the most poetic language in the world. I only remember small fragments which have been of no use other than the time I was at university and lived with two French girls who I could leave in hysterics by trying to speak French.

    Zinedine Zidane is amazing. I got into what you would call soccer in 1998 where he scored two goals in a World Cup final on his way to being accepted as the best player in the word at the time. He’s so incredibly French. The man just doesn’t give a fuck. Best player in the world, World Cup winner, European champion and chain smoker. It’s like he knows he’s the best, but it’s not because he’s trying. He just is.

    Against England in 2004 he was about to take a penalty. He threw up all over the floor, stepped up and just slotted the ball in.

    And of course everyone is aware that World Cup final or not, no-one talks shit about his family.

    This whole post, and the postcards made me ever so slightly envious, but incredibly happy. Totally Killer is a fucking awesome book. Tres bien.

  7. Traveling to Atlanta yesterday I read The Paris Wife, a fictionalized account by Hemingway’s first wife Hadley. It was all about their years in Paris with Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Ezra Pound and the wacky Fitzgerald’s among others. It made me think about you and how wonderfully feted you were in France … and here you are! I really thought that time was a myth, when writers were honored for their profession, but knowing you were a part of that wonderful tradition leaves me thrilled that you were there with the ghosts of a very honorable literary past.

    This is my favorite Tweet: Philippe, my editor, meets me at the airport. He identifies himself by waving around a poster of the Totally Killer cover. There is a French word for the kind of cajones it requires to wave around a poster of a gun at an airport. That word is chutzpah.

    CHUTZPAH: my new favorite French word. 😉

    • Greg Olear says:

      Ah, I’m glad you like my chutzpah joke! I’ve been meaning to procure a copy of THE PARIS WIFE…it sounds right up my alley. Hadley was the best-named Hemingway wife. And THE SUN ALSO RISES is one of my favorite books, and the one I’ve read the most number of times.

  8. Great work, Greg! Here’s wishing you all the best, now and always. So looking forward to seeing you in NYC, you world traveler you.

  9. Quenby Moone says:

    I can’t wait to read this–skimming your slightly-wordier-than-140-chars-tweets makes me mad that I have other stupid things to do.

    I will return.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, QB. Yeah, I sort of made it seem like this was short, because it’s Twitterfied, when in actuality it’s an incredibly long post. Sneaky of me, no? ; )

  10. Joe Daly says:

    GO-

    This is fantastic. What a clever and creative way to document (docutweet?) your trip. I wanted to raise a giant foam finger with “GREG OLEAR” on it when I read this:

    “There is a French word for the kind of cajones it requires to wave around a poster of a gun at an airport. That word is chutzpah. ”

    Phenomenal to hear the life your book is enjoying. Devastating to hear about your crush on ZZ. I mean, I respect the ever loving hell out of the guy, and love that he didn’t back down from that saucy Italian in his final match. But you know, I know, and the rest of the world knows that French soccer is full of cheaters.

    The pic of the Croque Madame was brutal, in a very satisfying way. Is that possible?

    Congratulations. Keep us posted on how it continues to progress.

    Btw- was there anything in your chart to suggest this was on the table?

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, man.

      Pluto stopped squaring Pluto, mainly. That transit is a bitch. Shit got unblocked. I don’t know.

      What makes the croque madame look so good is the salad. We Americans are not used to seeing green stuff on our plates. Well, we non-vegetarian Americans, anyway… ; )

  11. Slade Ham says:

    Congrats, congrats, congrats, to the globetrotting, (soon-to-be) best selling author… What a cool experience, man. I, too, am a huge Zidane fan. I was impressed by his headbutt to the chest two World Cups ago. He didn’t care that there was a world championship on the line. He played exactly how he would have played if nothing were on the line. Aggressively.

    “Vat? I headbutts ze people in ze chest ven they gets too close, no?”

    Glad the podcasts helped with the flight. Thanks for the shout out.

    And congrats again, my friend.

    • Greg Olear says:

      From your lips to God’s ears, as they say.

      I’m not at all a soccer…er, a football…guy — and then they seemed to have had a meeting to decide how to make me even less interested, and they came up with, “Let’s have a hundred thousand assholes play the vuvuzela really loud the whole tournament” — but I do love me my Zidane.

      I listened to you guys and Jessica Blau and Robin Antalek and Jess Walter on Book Club Girl. It was all good.

      • Slade Ham says:

        The vuvuzela is the single worst creation in the history of ever. Makes me want to release a hive or two of Africanized bees into the crowd. They would never hear them coming.

        Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. STING

        No more vuvuzelas.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Je suis d’accord.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          They had to ban vuvuzelas in this country after all the stupid fans tried to bring back their world cup ‘souvenirs.’

          I’m pretty sure that aside from Englands Geoff Hurst way back in ’66 that Zidane has more world cup final goals than any other player. They both have three.

          What’s kind of strange is that I hadn’t thought about Zidane in ages until the cameraman found him in the crowd of a match shown on TV a while ago. Now this. I heard if you hear his name three times in front of a mirror he appears.

          And headbutts you in the chest.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I just tried it. It works. And my chest hurts.

  12. zoe zolbrod says:

    Paris rolled out the red carpet for the hot shit author that is you! I love it. Post-op tweets are the perfect vehicle for the excitement.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Zoe.

      The tweets were a way to get to the meat without the bother of writing transitions…I’m glad I thought of it, so as not to subject anyone to a 20,000-word post, which is how long this might have been otherwise…

  13. Jessica Blau says:

    Love this, absolutely love this! Your trip is almost as exciting for me as it was for you!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Jessica. I thought of you while I was there, of course, and wished that fluency in a foreign language were like an E-ZPass that one could just borrow…I could have used your Francophonic plug-in that week for sure!

  14. Zara Potts says:

    Totally Killah. Ha! That’s how I say it.

    You are so creative, Greg!
    I love this! Did you take notes while you were there so as not to forget your immediate thoughts? Or did you compose all these tweets after the trip?

    It’s always great to read you and this is no exception.

  15. I’ve studied the architecture of Notre Dame fairly extensively in art history classes (never, sadly, in person), and I’ve never noticed that it looks like a spaceship. But it really does. Wow.

    Also, this experience is SO COOL. Jealous.

    • Greg Olear says:

      It does, right? I noticed this when we saw it the first time, on our honeymoon. And that was BEFORE I read Sitchin.

      But then, I also think the Mona Lisa looks Indian when you see her in person. So I might just be crazy.

      And you need to get to Paris!

  16. Awesome. Every bit of it. Oh, to be on the Éditions Gallmeister team. Have I mentioned how much I love the cover? Do not fall for the Le Pen ruse. Vote Romain Duris!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, man.

      I ran the caption of that photo through Google translate, just to check my lackluster French, and it spit back her name as Marine Le Stylo. I thought that was pretty funny.

  17. Simon Smithson says:

    So Frenchy, so chic!

    M’sieu, c’est magnifique!

    This is awesome news, Greg. Congratulations on your success, and your warm reception in France. Totally, totally deserved.

  18. Alison Aucoin says:

    I’ve never been to Paris for a book tour of course, but I have to say my experience of the place is very similar. How is it that the Parisians crate a world that is both frenetic and languid?

  19. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Terrific piece, Greg! Congratulations on all the excitement and attention. It seems like you completely relished the experience. And how great is it that a writer was treated like a rock star. Part Deux for Fathermucker!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Ronlyn. And amen to part deux.

      France prefers writers to rock stars, but then, their writers are better than their rock stars. I don’t know that I can name a French rock star.

  20. pixy says:

    i’m totally in love with this whole thing!

    and your hair DID look great!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, my dear. My hair is totally a coin flip. I have no control over it. Some days it looks good, some days it looks like crap. I credit the Aveda Control Paste.

  21. I LOVE the French cover for your book. The English one was already really cool, but the French really kicked it up a notch. Such a dangerously compelling and striking image.

    That was so nice of Sophie to give you the ring for Steph. What a doll.

    Thanks so much for writing about your trip. I got really happy and excited for you as you described seeing your book in so many bookstores. Woo-hoo! I feel like I’ve vicariously had an adventure this morning. (:

  22. Brad Listi says:

    Has anyone mentioned the picture of you at the party, and pretty much everyone is smoking?

    Goddammit. You go to Paris and everyone is thin and generally good-looking, and everyone is smoking. It makes it all seem so harmless…

    • Greg Olear says:

      Most people smoke, but not in a chain-smoke sort of way. I intend to write a longer piece on this, but it was amazing how no one seemed to care about “staying fit,” and yet they all were. They exercise by smoking an gesticulating wildly as they debate. And they walk fast. Also, they eat a lot of salad.

  23. Matt says:

    “We don’t publish books we like,” Oliver tells me, patting my back. “We don’t have time for that. We put out ten books a year; we only publish books we love.”

    Arguably the sweetes words any author can hear their publisher say.

    What a fantastic-looking trip, Greg. I’m glad you were treated like the proper rock star we all know you are.

  24. Irene Zion says:

    Damn, Greg.
    You had so much fun!
    I am so happy for you; you deserve every bit of it!
    (I would totally choke on my High School French in your shoes.)

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Irene.

      Oh, I choked quite a bit, believe me. But I got better as I rolled along. Even though I didn’t remember certain basic words — donner, for example — until the plane ride home.

  25. Your book is in all the bookstores in Paris… That is the coolest thing ever. You could put that on a t-shirt or a business card.

    I wonder how many people wander through their lives thinking of how to convey what’s happening on Twitter. Given that I haven’t owned a phone in pretty much the life span of Twitter, I do have to save my Tweets for later when I’m at a computer… But then again, I think I’m not economically enough with words for it. I save my thoughts for longer Facebook posts.

    • Er, that’s “economic” not “economically”. Duh.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, man. Yes, I tend to agree, so much so that I couldn’t even think of a way to make a joke about it.

      Twitter is a vehicle,like anything else. Some things are good as tweets; most are not.

      “I save my thoughts for longer Facebook posts” would be a GREAT bumper sticker.

  26. Art Edwards says:

    It’s so awesome you got to do this.

    It’s so awesome anyone gets to do this.

  27. Gloria says:

    I had no idea that chutzpah was French. Thanks for schooling me, Greg.

    I pleases me to know that there are so many bookstores in Paris. I’ve never had any urge to go to Paris, but now I kinda do – especially after this post.

    Like Listi, I love that everyone in the photo of the party is smoking. Not necessarily because I love smoking (which, I admit, I kind of do, being an addict of it), but because it’s so not American.

    I’m glad you exceeded 140 characters here and there – it’s my one beef with Twitter. I’m not so good at it, either.

    It sounds like you had a great time, Greg. I’m so pleased Totally Killer is doing so well in France – and everywhere. XO

    • Quenby Moone says:

      That Greg. Always pulling one over on us!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chutzpah

      Us Jews would be shocked, SHOCKED to discover that ze Français had absconded with one of the best words in ANY language, including theirs.

      In other news, Greg: it goes without saying that we’re all incredibly proud and digesting our own stomachs with envy. I would go more with the pride thing, especially because you’re so generous and amazed at your own place there.

      Good grief, who could imagine that a writer, anyone creative might be respected for their craft?

      Also, vive le socialisme!

      Sigh.

      Sorry it took me so damned long to get back here to read it. It was worth it just to imagine you squirming with the translation process.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Gloria.

      Yes, in French it’s

      chutzpayer
      je chutzpais
      tu chutzpais
      il/elle chutzpait
      nous chutzpons
      vous chutzpez
      ils/elles chutzpent

      I love the smoking photo, because it looks awesome. And it was awesome.

      And you should definitely go to Paris. Everyone should. It’s one of those places, you know?

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