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Monsieur Mediocre

Best Seller
Monsieur Mediocre by John von Sothen
Paperback $17.00
Aug 25, 2020 | ISBN 9780735224858

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  • Aug 25, 2020 | ISBN 9780735224858

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  • May 07, 2019 | ISBN 9780735224841

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Named one of the best travel books in the New York Times‘s “Summer Reading” list

“John von Sothen’s memoir of Parisian expat life . . . offers dozens of these inside-baseball insights into a place that continues to mystify and enchant. . . . von Sothen offers some delicious, uniquely French details.”
—The Washington Post

“What do you need to know about the places you’re going? A dozen new books answer this question in strikingly idiosyncratic ways, wreathing their authors’ wanderings in vivid back story—sometimes emotional, sometimes empirical, sometimes imperial—enveloping the reader in a kind of legible Sensurround. These books ought to come with 3-D glasses and a soundtrack. . . . The American writer John von Sothen crushed out on a more universally recognized source of allure, a beautiful Frenchwoman, whom he met in a bistro in Brooklyn at the turn of the millennium. Soon his love for that woman, Anaïs, launched him across the Atlantic to Paris, where he remains today. Monsieur Mediocre records his love affair with France and with Anaïs (whom he married), and his continuing, bumbling attempts to carry off la vie Parisienne with something approaching grace—or, at least, skirting calamity.”
—The New York Times

“This book made me laugh out loud on the subway. J’adore every jaded character, every hilarious insight, and every upended stereotype. Most of all I felt this hum of love—for France, for family, and for life, really—that gives every essay a beguiling depth.”
—Maeve Higgins, author of Maeve in America

“Hilarious and touching! We hear often how cultured the French are, how sophisticated, how superior. Expat John von Sothen’s Paris is, in his words, ‘a mess—a confusing, roiling, weird place.’ In other words, it’s a lot of fun—not unlike this charming book.”
—Ada Calhoun, author of Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give

“I devoured John von Sothen’s sharp, funny, and surprisingly tender memoir. A fresh look at a country many know only through a rose-tinted lens.”
—Jancee Dunn, author of How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids

“An entertaining memoir . . . While von Sothen’s vibrant memoir is often humorous, he is also a thoughtful observer of politics and modern family life, including the pain of living far from elderly parents and the unique perspective that comes from being an outsider. As his wife, Anais, tells the author, ‘We critique best what we love the most.’ And that is definitely true for Monsieur Mediocre.”

“Von Sothen is both laugh-out-loud funny and tender, the latter especially in poignant essays about his parents, an artist and a newsman, who had him late in life. The problem, if it can be called one, is that even without fantasy, von Sothen’s Paris comes across as pretty fantastic, a vibrant, genuine place he clearly feels lucky to call home.”

“A deft, shrewd, and entertaining take on [von Sothen’s] adoptive home, a place far different from how it is conveyed in winsome movies like Amelie and books like Peter Mayle’s sun-dappled A Year in Provence. . . . A witty, incisive portrait of contemporary France.”

Vanity Fair writer von Sothen delights in this wry narrative about the gritty, grumpy realities of being an American adjusting to the Gallic lifestyle . . . With self-deprecating humor, von Sothen wonderfully gives an insider’s take on living life as an outsider.”
—Publishers Weekly

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