But, what struck me while reading was the idyllic manner in which she writes about Ireland. Everything is green, beautiful, and charming over there. I have a friend here who is Irish, and after talking to her, I realize it's bullshit. Even more troublesome is the way she has the Irish talking, which is, as far as I can figure, simply adding "ye" and "aye" randomly into conversations. Sarah talks differently from me, but nothing like the characters in the book. (If anything, it's more Scottish, but I suppose you can't pick up on the discreet cultural nuances of language if the only research you do involves a quick glance at Wikipedia and/or The Lonely Planet.)
Why did this stick with me? I live in Paris (okay, Ile de France). France in general, is romanticised to the point of flat-out lies. While I will not deny that Paris is an amazing city, it's also, well, just a city, with it's share of faults. Let's make a brief lists of stereotypes/misleading cultural factoids, shall we?
1) The French eat well. Gui Gui's favorite restaurant to bring me to is McDonalds.
2) The Eiffel Tower. The French originally hated it, and this American in particular hates it. I have been once or twice to picnic on the Champs Mars, but have since vowed never to go back. The place is infested by gypsies and criminals looking to swindle tourists.
3) The metro. Don't let the whimsical signs in the city center fool you, because while I love the Paris metro deeply, it's disgusting. It reeks of urine, and other bodily functions, and is bitterly cold in the winter, and sweltering in the summer. It does win points for being relatively cheap, and fast.
4) The French are romantic, and always speak eloquently.
c) My boyfriend
5) Frenchmen dress well. Ok, this is partially true. I love coat season in Paris, and sunglass season (Gui Gui has a pair of aviators that he looks sooo good in). However, Gui Gui also, for example wears converses, almost everyday (We went out last week, and it was the first time I had seen him in other shoes/not the same sweatshirt.)
6) French women are stylish. You caught me, this is true. They dress WAY better than me.
7) All French women know how to cook. Fact, they don't have to. Picard is a company that specializes in frozen food, perfect for the working Mom who doesn't employ an Au Pair. Picard is worth a blog in itself. I'll do that one day.
8) The French only drink moderately. See, Gui Gui's friends. Some of which occasionally black out on benches around Paris/get into street fights.
9) Paris is a beautiful city. SDF.
In the end of the day, there is a clip from Paris Je T'aime that sums up nicely what I want to say. The movie is composed of several short stories, this one in particular is done by the Coen Brothers. I've put it on my facebook before, but it's good enough to watch again.