When we moved to Paris, I dreamed of leading a cultural life; becoming friends with artists, joining museums and attending cultural salons like those once held by Juliette Recamier or Charles Nodier. I know, oh so very 19th century of me. But cultural salons are not a thing of the past, they’re alive and well, only I have not been to many. For some inexplicable reason famous authors, known artists and respected cultural luminaries did not spontaneously start beating down my door and the invitations did not start flooding my concierge’s mailbox the moment I set foot in Paris.
I had no idea how find the kindred spirits who hold these kind of events, and then there was that little detail called life. I mean, when you think of Proust lounging about with his pals, you can’t exactly picture a charming wife by his side and the idea of a packet of young kids scurrying about there ankles is just unthinkable. Well, I had a husband, and young children and I didn’t have a household of staff to take care of my responsibilities while I was out gadding about with “artistes”.
Then my husband left and I found myself with a French lover and my daughters grew up and that dream was still there, only the invitations still seem to be lost with La Poste, so, this Sunday night I decided to do something about it and I held a literary salon of my own.
I started by inviting my aunt, who was in town from San Francisco and who happens to be a successful author. In addition to a novel, some PBS documentaries, and a screen play, Victoria Zackheim is the editor of a series of anthologies. Her subjects generally focus on women and last night we had a full house of them in the form of local expat writers and photographers as well as a handful of Parisienne gallery owners and even a token accountant!
Victoria read from her latest book, Exit Laughing, a collection of stories about humour and death and how the one eases the other. Not an easy topic, but like her book The Other Woman, about infidelity, this collection takes the sting out of a difficult subject. Victoria spoke to is about her process and the writing classes she gives online through the fantastic UCLA Extension program. And graciously took questions from us all.
It was a lovely evening and I hope it is not the last salon in my home. To keep it going I have a proposal for you. If you live in Paris and you’re interested in attending a salon, please let me know by email, or in the comments section (your email will not be published) AND if you happen to know an author who lives here or will be in town, please let me know so that I can extend an invitation to Le Salon!