Monsieur Mediocre
A hilarious, candid account of what life in France is actually like, from a writer for Vanity Fair and GQAmericans love to love Paris. We buy books about how the French parent, why French women don't get fat, and how to be Parisian wherever you are. While our work hours increase every year, we think longingly of the six weeks of vacation the French enjoy, imagining them at the seaside in stripes with plates of fruits de mer.John von Sothen fell in love with Paris through the stories his mother told of her year spent there as a student. And then, after falling for and marrying a French waitress he met in New York, von Sothen moved to Paris. But fifteen years in, he's finally ready to admit his mother's Paris is mostly a fantasy. In this hilarious and delightful collection of essays, von Sothen walks us through real life in Paris--not only myth-busting our Parisian daydreams but also revealing the inimitable and too often invisible pleasures of family life abroad.Relentlessly funny and full of incisive observations, Monsieur Mediocre is ultimately a love letter to France--to its absurdities, its history, its ideals--but it's a very French love letter: frank, smoky, unsentimental. It is a clear-eyed ode to a beautiful, complex, contradictory country from someone who both eagerly and grudgingly calls it home.

Monsieur Mediocre Details

TitleMonsieur Mediocre
Author
ReleaseMay 7th, 2019
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780735224834
Rating
GenreTravel, Nonfiction, Cultural, France

Monsieur Mediocre Review

  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    If you took a poll in the USA, I would guess Paris would likely make the top 10 list for dream vacation destinations. Paris resident John Von Sothen remembers what it was like to wonder about, experience for the first time, and now be completely immersed in what was once literally foreign to him. He somewhat humorously gathers stereotypes and assumptions which he both breaks and confirms by sharing his personal observations/experiences. It does feel at times quite opinionated, borderline judgmen If you took a poll in the USA, I would guess Paris would likely make the top 10 list for dream vacation destinations. Paris resident John Von Sothen remembers what it was like to wonder about, experience for the first time, and now be completely immersed in what was once literally foreign to him. He somewhat humorously gathers stereotypes and assumptions which he both breaks and confirms by sharing his personal observations/experiences. It does feel at times quite opinionated, borderline judgmental, if I'm being honest but if I came across a similar book floating around about Florida's heavy populated tourist destinations, I'd probably laugh my @ss off. It's all about what you know. I'm glad he found a place to call home.Thank you to Viking Books and Goodreads Giveaways for the opportunity to win an early copy of Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French.
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  • Meagan Houle
    January 1, 1970
    I freely admit I knew nothing of modern French culture when I chose "Monsieur Mediocre," nor had I ever done much thinking on the subject at all. The title was impossible to pass up, though, and I immediately fell head over heels in love with John's self-deprecating style. I'm not sure that the details will stick with me. Ask me in a year what this book talked about, and I probably won't be able to discuss France's dizzying political landscape, or the peculiarities of its education system. What I freely admit I knew nothing of modern French culture when I chose "Monsieur Mediocre," nor had I ever done much thinking on the subject at all. The title was impossible to pass up, though, and I immediately fell head over heels in love with John's self-deprecating style. I'm not sure that the details will stick with me. Ask me in a year what this book talked about, and I probably won't be able to discuss France's dizzying political landscape, or the peculiarities of its education system. What I'm sure to remember is how much fun I had following John on his adventures, and how much joy his narrative voice added to my day.So go on, even if you've never given France a single thought: go for it. You'll like it, I promise.
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Life is too short to read poor books. I quit 2/3 of the way through and only made it that far because I won the Goodreads giveaway. This author is the “guest who loves to hear himself talk and goes on way too long.” I was expecting some humor like most “man in a new country” books, but this was an endless essay on “how hard French is y’all, and I learned it all wrong.” Each chapter is about the endless parties and social events he goes to and how the French make everything an ordeal. One quote Life is too short to read poor books. I quit 2/3 of the way through and only made it that far because I won the Goodreads giveaway. This author is the “guest who loves to hear himself talk and goes on way too long.” I was expecting some humor like most “man in a new country” books, but this was an endless essay on “how hard French is y’all, and I learned it all wrong.” Each chapter is about the endless parties and social events he goes to and how the French make everything an ordeal. One quote from the book is “There’s a special embarrassment one feels when you know people are reading what you wrote and finding it pompous.” This is that book. The chapter on vacations was the high point since it put into words my worst vacation nightmare.I’ve always wanted to visit Paris but this book made it sound beyond boring. Giving it a 1.5. Thank you to Viking and Goodreads for the giveaway.
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