David Burke’s favourite Paris reads

The man who literally wrote the book on writers in Paris shares some of his favourite city reads
David Burke

David Burke's enduring fascination with the glamorous lives of expatriate American authors in Paris has shaped his own story. Visiting Paris at the age of 20, he walked the same streets as his heroes Joyce, Beckett, Hemingway and others. Many years later he has been a documentary writer and producer for CBS, travel guide author for Harper Collins, and has made his life in Paris for the last 25 years. His acclaimed book 'Writers in Paris' delves into the enthralling history of some of the city's most famous and extraordinary literary lives – and you can also get a flavour of his knowledge and enthusiasm on one of his walking tours. From the café where F. Scott Fitzgerald met Hemingway and got so drunk he had to be carried bodily into a cab, to the quiet residential courtyard where Gertrude Stein once held her legendary salons, David's engaging walks allow you see Paris through new eyes.

David's recommended Paris reading:

'The Sun Also Rises' by Ernest Hemingway

This is the classic novel of the post-World War I 'Lost Generation' era of disillusioned, boozing, pleasure-seeking American and British expats in 1920s Montparnasse, and Hemingway was right there at the cafes and bars getting to know people who would become the characters, the hard drinking, man-eating British aristocrat Lady Brett Ashley in the novel for one. Earth shaking for Hemingway's prose in the English literary world, his famous 'true sentences' ring as true as ever today.

'Swann's Way' by Marcel Proust

Start with the vivacious 'Swann in Love' chapter of 'Swann's Way' to ease into Proust's elegant, witty style and way of telling a story. Let the tortuous love affair of Swann and Odette in Belle Epoque Paris open your door, as it did for me, to the greatest literary saga of the 20th century, Proust's splendid multi-volume novel 'In Search of Lost Time'

'The Black Count' by Tom Reiss

This electrifying biography of General Alexandre Dumas, the father of the famed novelist, is one of the most exciting books I've read in ages. A black man from the French West Indies who came to France as a boy, he joined the army right at the start of the French Revolution, and his ferocious exploits in combat and key victories sent him in no time to the top levels of military command – only to find himself sabotaged later in his career by Napoleon, who saw him as a rival for power. But, besides this Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, he lives on in fiction as the model for the hero Edmond Dantès in his son Alexandre's novel 'The Count of Monte Cristo'.