When Scott Carpenter moves from Minnesota to Paris, little does he suspect the dramas that await: scheming neighbors, police denunciations, surly demonstrators, cooking disasters, medical mishaps―not to mention all those lectures about cheese! It turns out that nothing in the City of Light can be taken for granted, where even trips to the grocery store lead to adventure.
French Like Moi, Carpenter’s droll take on his sabbatical year in Paris, keeps the reader chuckling and occasionally cringing. While largely a collection of essays published elsewhere, the pieces coalesce into a respectable memoir ... Carpenter describes his adventures with self-deprecating good humor ... Carpenter mostly plays for laughs, and the wisecracks get thick in places. But he also shares some worthy observations about French and American culture. The attitude toward homelessness, for example. 'Paris is unforgiving of small social infractions, but once you cross a certain threshold, almost any eccentricity can be pardoned — sort of the way that, in the U.S., petty thieves get thrown in prison while the more ambitious ones are put in charge of hedge funds.'
In this entertaining memoir, Carpenter, who teaches French in Minnesota, tries to adapt his midwestern mores to the ways of the Parisians. Although he’s fluent in the language, he soon finds that nuance plays a big part in his conversations. As he stumbles through interactions and relationships, he shares hilarious faux-pas and cultural differences. The author reads with a deadpan, self-deprecating, understated tone that allows the situations to play out drily for the listener. The result is an affectionate, insider’s look at French culture.
No stranger to the French but a relative newcomer to their daily routines, the author highlights the captivating contrasts between his Midwestern home and his adopted city in 18 essays ... Carpenter’s insights are humorous and deftly crafted, interweaving perceptive details about the French language with curious incidents and stirring events. While the tone is light, the author occasionally ventures into serious territory, most effectively in his discussion of terrorism and the national climate. While his more solemn moments can verge on flippancy, Carpenter generally returns readers to a place of thoughtful consideration ... Although perhaps not groundbreaking in its subject matter or style, the book is a delightful read, presenting essays filled with levity and grace ... A winning and witty collection offering humor and insight into the French way of life.