Paris, a City of Untold Stories
Posted on September 21 2017
Photography credit Charissa Fay
Is Paris on your wish list of places to visit – for its masterpieces of art, height of fashion, magnificent cuisine? As a place to escape the world, or where you can experience it more fully than ever? As a city, it has always celebrated tradition, as much as it sets new trends. The contradictory nature of the City of Light is noted by American-born and French-based writer, Lindsey Tramuta, whose book, THE NEW PARIS, places the city at the crossroads of globalization. She documents the latest regeneration of this urban epicenter with journalistic curiosity and vibrant photography.
There is a trend of great books about Paris right now. How does your book compare with “The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs” by Elaine Sciolino, which focuses on the unchanging, eternal side of Paris as a historic city?
Truthfully, I think this book is different from everything else out there. I had a challenge with this book to document a seminal period in the city’s history, and still make it something readers would pick up time and again, whether they were visiting Paris or not. I wanted to cover subjects in a way that guidebooks don’t, because they are meant to be descriptive rather than informative. So, I tried to give hefty cultural context for all of the changes the city is undergoing, yet make it easily digestible − it wasn’t meant to be an encyclopedia!
I love Sciolino’s book, but hers is predominantly narrative and speaks to an area of Paris that is near and dear to her, the Rue des Martyrs. She wrote about her pocket of Paris in a beautiful, celebratory way, highlighting the people and places that make it special. I did that too, but the objectives were not the same nor is the format comparable, as my book is much more visual. That being said, there has always been a robust collection of literature on Paris, and there is room for all perspectives. I’m honored to have contributed one piece to a topic that never stops beguiling.
Lots of people are familiar with Paris, perhaps having visited as a tourist, but you’re exceptionally knowledgeable in this area, from living there and writing about it – how so?
Everyday I encounter something or someone that could become the basis of a new story. Paris is full of stories to be told, if your eyes are open to them, and so by dint of going about my daily life and its many mundanities, I’m exposing myself to new work.
This book was the result of nearly a decade of living in Paris. I was a French literature major, so my linguistic skills were already more than conversational when I arrived here. By the time I was under contract for this book, my fluency continued to improve, and eventually there was no interview I couldn’t do in French. Bilingualism as a journalist is a tremendous gift − most of the people I spoke with would not have been able to open up and converse with me had they needed to do so in English.
Writing this book would mean going deeper than I’ve ever been able to do for a story, spend more time with each individual I wanted to include, and make the right connections between areas of life in which the cultural shifts I observed were making an impact. It just felt like the right subject matter at the right time and I ran with it!
Your book features beautifully vivid photographs, that illustrate the modernization and globalism of Paris. Who was the photographer you worked with?
I worked with New York-based Charissa Fay, who has a dreamy softness to her photography that matched the style I envisioned for this book. Though she had visited Paris countless times prior to the shoot, she did not know many of the developments I was writing about. So, I appreciated that she approached each shot as an outsider, with a fresh perspective.
-- Mid Century Books interviews Lindsey Tramuta, of The New Paris: The People, Places, and Ideas Fueling a Movement