October 20, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Paris to the Moon

Current Status
In Season
Adam Gopnik
Random House
Nonfiction, Essays
We gave it an A-

For those accustomed to reading Adam Gopnik’s dispatches from Paris in The New Yorker, the collection Paris to the Moon feels almost magisterial. There, these pieces seemed as light as a soufflé; here they’ve acquired the heartiness of a pot-au-feu. Self-consciously self-absorbed, Gopnik forages for subjects in the yuppie trinity of leisure — ”children and cooking and spectator sports, including the spectator sport of shopping.” He’s more an eager explainer than a grand theorist of the difference between Paris and New York. And Gopnik’s knack for comparison makes him a master of simile: ”It is as if all American appliances dreamed of being cars while all French appliances dreamed of being telephones.” Just as his description of joining a gym becomes a critique of labyrinthine French bureaucracy, his account of his family’s Parisian life is transformed from a simple exercise to a treatise of substance. A-

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