Praise & Reviews
For years I’ve admired and adored the prose of the essayist Luc Sante…and now he has written another urban masterpiece, The Other Paris. What finally emerges from its intricate zigzagging chapters is a strategic document: a history of Paris that is also a treatise on the vanishing arts of disobedience.
–Adam Thirlwell, Times Literary Supplement
‘The city,’ [Sante] insists, ‘―compact and curled within itself, a labyrinth―had to be played like a game.’ This is an idea―I’ll admit it―that I love, not just in regard to Paris but also to the very essence of urban life . . . Sante is highlighting the law of unintended consequences, which brings us back to dérive again. Throughout The Other Paris, he invokes the figure of the flâneur, which is to say the one who walks to connect to the city through the soles of his or her feet…Here, we see the sneaky genius of The Other Paris, which, like Low Life, conceals the complexity of its structure, masquerading as a popular history…until it reveals that it has been about circling all along.
―David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
“Sante [is] a superb writer who can give astonishing form to floating moods and trends that no one noticed before. You don’t have to love Paris (but who doesn’t?) to be enthralled by the voyage surprise to which he invites us.”
–John Ashbery, Times Literary Supplement
The Other Paris is both eulogy and paean to the matrixes of anarchy, creativity, crime, and serendipity that once gave shape to the City of Light.”
―Anna Wierner, The New Republic
[Sante] casts his lot with the ragpickers and streetwalkers, and his readers are better off for it.
―Dmitry Samarov, The Chicago Tribune
This brilliant, beautifully written essay is the finest book I have ever read about Paris. Ever. Thank you, Luc Sante.
Nowadays, the old, crowded, swarming, surly cities are at least half-forgotten. But in this great chronicle, Luc Sante recalls when Paris was rougher, when the poor, the tough, the unregulated, the underworld, thrived there; maybe the city was also less rough, in that there was room for nearly everyone all the way down the social ladder. Hanging over The Other Paris is the contemporary curse that perhaps hit Paris first, of cities that have become bland transnational stopping places for the privileged. Magisterial as ever, Sante returns us to the flavor, texture, savor, shouts, and clashes of the bygone city.
The Other Paris is a heartbreaking spectacle, immense in intellectual and political scope and emotional reach. Peopled by crooks and movie stars, gamblers and thinkers, the world’s premier city of dreams is rendered, through Luc Sante’s fine hand, historian’s eye, and poet’s heart, into a place we hardly knew-a world of hitherto unknown mysteries and realities. A grand journey in an epic work.
The elevation of the obscure and the overlooked, the discarded or hidden or marginal, to artistic status or cultural prominence has become a cottage industry for artists and writers of late, but as an anti-ghostbuster, Sante is in a class by himself…the pleasures to be had from the fruits of his research are considerable…[The Other Paris’s] great virtue is to send the reader down investigative paths of his own.
―Molly Haskell, The New York Times Book Review
‘We have forgotten what a city was,’ Luc Sante provocatively writes about Paris. By the last chapter of this absorbing book, we are convinced. Washerwomen and ragpickers, bohemians and clochards, anarchists and apaches, all play their part in this alternative urban history. This is not the Gay Paree of Maurice Chevalier, though he too makes an appearance.