Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik


“Paris to the Moon'' was taken from essays originally written for the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik, who was assigned to live in Paris from 1995 to 2000. Gopnik begins his account telling us ''I've wanted to live in Paris since I was 8.''

Americans fascination with France, Paris in particular, goes back to Benjamin Franklin’s time and when this book was published in 2000, Gopnik pleads guilty to the same affection.

The essays make statements about the deeper subjects of literature by focusing on small day to day things. “Christmas lights, fax machines, children’s stories” all are items where Gopnik tries to finder larger truths about French and American life.

Gopnik wondered why his refrigerator in New York looked so different as the one he had in Paris and wrote: ''It is as if all American appliances dreamed of being cars while all French appliances dreamed of being telephones,'' He concluded that the French are obsessed by telephones because they love to communicate.

America’s “official culture”, of course, is compared to France’s “civilization”. (Benjamin Franklin likely said something like that) “The Rookie”, one of the most popular chapters in the book, seems to say that life in America brings with it the “gift of loneliness”.  Gopnik finds a way to label the culture of both countries by telling us that he wanted to “protect his child from the weather on CNN in favor of the civilization of the carousel”

At the end of Paris to the Moon, when the family decides to return to America, Gopnik’s wife Martha says, “In Paris we have a beautiful existence but not a full life, and in New York we have a full life but an un-beautiful existence.”

Has anything changed since Benjamin Franklin went to find culture?


We breathe in our first language, and swim in our second.” 

“American long for a closed society in which everything can be bought, where laborers are either hidden away or dressed up as nonhumans, so as not to be disconcerting. This place is called Disney World” 

“The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped.”

“After all, spinning is its own reward. There wouldn't be carousels if it weren't so.” “Writers are married to their keyboards, as to their passports.” 

“ have taken part in the only really majestic choice we get to make in life, which is to continue it.” 

Charles Dickens…………………“I cannot tell you what an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the world!”

Honoré de Balzac“Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.”

The only train leaving for the moon would likely be from Paris