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Merde Happens


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About the Author

Stephen Clarke lives in Paris where he divides his time between writing and not writing. His first novel, A Year In The Merde, originally became a word-of-mouth hit in Paris in 2004. Since then it has been published all over the world, and earned Stephen a nomination for the British Book Award for Best Newcomer. The follow-up, Merde Actually, went to number one in the Bookseller chart. In 2006, he published his guide to understanding the French, Talk to the Snail, which he divided into ten 'commandments' or chapters that include 'Thou Shalt Not Work', 'Thou Shalt Not Love Thy Neighbour' and 'Thou Shalt Not Be Served'. His next novel, Merde Happens, was nominated for the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance.


In this entertaining third installment to his Paul West series, British journalist Clarke sets his acerbic sights on America. Paul, an ex-pat Brit running a tearoom in Paris, commits a grievous crime when he presents English menus at his tearoom. The Ministry of Culture slaps him with a massive fine, and a broke Paul returns to London and accepts a position with Visitor Resources: Britain to represent his home country in a global tourism contest. So, with his Parisian girlfriend in tow, Paul heads for America, picks up an embarrassingly decorated Mini Cooper in New York and heads to Boston, Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Los Angeles in an effort to win the prize. Trouble follows, of course, and what makes the transcontinental romp so much fun is Clarke's sarcastic sendup of each city, embellishing the traditional stereotypes of each with a dry, jaded Brit wit. (The magazines found in a Louisiana home include "Sniper's Gazette, Drive-by Weekly, Firing Squad Monthly. Standard stuff.") Peripheral characters add even more color to the madcap story, and while not all of Clarke's stabs at the states hit their marks, the ones that do are sublime. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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