As I wrap up projects for the year and look back on the last twelve months, I find myself turning in circles around two questions: why was it so fleeting (with the follow-up question, is that feeling a byproduct of getting older or the internet?) and what did I manage to accomplish?
Since I have yet to answer the first one, I’ll go straight to the second. For one, I like to think I improved my decision-making abilities. What’s worth my time (which I finally understand is precious and shouldn’t be doled out frivolously), what makes me happy, and what will further my professional goals are all questions I believe I have better answers to than ever before. Though they won’t appreciate the compliment, I attribute much of this to my kittens, Leo and Charlie, who have forced me to reprioritize and be more present, partly because they need me to be. Never have I enjoyed laying around at home more than during this year with them. And if I’m going to spend time away from them — even thousands of miles away — it better be for a good reason. I’ve always considered myself discerning but I think it’s a more firmly anchored character trait after this year of serious adulting.
The cats were also a comfort while I was finalizing my manuscript in January, reviewing edits in March, re-shooting images in July, and oscillating between cover options (read: ball of stress); on top of near paralyzing dismay at the state of affairs in the world. There’s nothing quite like mass violence, despair, and a cataclysmic election cycle to make you latch onto life’s profundities.
Then, I think of my work — the stories I managed to tell, those which fell through the cracks — and, for the first time in my adult life, I feel proud. The beast of all of these stories was the one that will come into the world in April, graced with the cover you see above.
This was not an easy journey but it was almost unbearably edifying. Bringing an idea — or what begins more like a nugget — to life is an experience that many attempt to document but few adequately capture. The road to publishing has been a mixed bag of emotions from start to finish. The cover, which involved twenty-six rounds of feedback, a few sleepless nights, and a whole lot of excitement, was the massive cherry on top, if that cherry is meant to encompass everything in the sundae beneath it and seduce in one quick glance.
The photo selection was almost a no-brainer. An image of Boot Café, a specialty coffee shop in the Haut Marais owned by the American furniture designer Phil Euell and his wife, was the unanimous winner not merely because it is home to truly delicious coffee, prepared by talented baristas hailing from Japan and the U.K., but because it symbolizes the movement I describe in the book. Old in form, new in vision. Entrepreneurial, artisanal, small, personal. It is a personal happy place for me and also the backdrop for my own personal platonic meet-cute with Frank Barron (aka Cakeboy Paris), who you see reading the newspaper out front, dandy and charming as ever. We met years back at this very café, both of us with our respective partners and him with his Boston Terrier named Parker who caught my attention. That he agreed to play an extra and appear on the cover makes me immeasurably happy.
Once we agreed upon the font color, the typeface, and the layout of the tagline, the whole project began to feel like a completed thing. Perhaps not yet a book — that will sink in once I have the first advanced copies in my hands — but the next best step.
So here it is, mes amis. I hope it will make you smile when you see it in your nearest bookstores or online, and that it will speak to you in some way.
To read some early praise for “The New Paris” by guide, writer, and food-lover extraordinaire Wendy Lyn (spoiler: she called it a “game-changer”!!!), click over to her site Paris is My Kitchen! To pre-order, please visit my Books page.