January 15, 2018

Meet the author Stephen Clarke - and a Theatrical Performance of his book 'The Merde Factor'

Let’s celebrate 40 years of WICE in 2018!  The anniversary celebrations begin with an exclusive opportunity to meet best selling author Stephen Clarke and to attend a special theatrical performance of his book The Merde Factor.
Who among us WICE English-speakers won’t identify with a British expat’s culture shock of living in Paris when he can’t speak French? Join us for an evening of laughter and fun at the Highlander Pub in Paris, on February 12, 2018, with the author behind the acclaimed “Merde” series of novels.  After The Merde Factor performance, there will be a Q&A session and book signing with Stephen Clarke.  

(The following is a summarized version of Stephen Clarke's text.)
When he self-published A Year in the Merde in 2004, printing up just 200 copies, he never dreamt that it would become a worldwide bestseller, translated into more than 20 languages.

Clarke (heavily) fictionalized his own experiences of settling into real life in Paris, working for a French company, finding a flat, navigating cross-cultural relationships, and learning he was so much less sophisticated than Parisians think they are.

The “Merde” in the title isn’t France itself, of course – it’s the chaos that ensues when the novel’s British hero, Paul West, blunders into French culture and tries to puzzle out what people are saying, and why they’re saying it. 

Couple this with colleagues who work harder at organizing their vacation than doing their job, girlfriends who expect him to make perfect vinaigrette, and trying to open an English tea room selling "British cuisine" (for Parisians, a contradiction in terms), and the result is a novel full of “Merde.”

After being picked up by mainstream publishers, A Year in the Merde was shortlisted for British first novel of the year.  In the sequel, Merde Actually, Paul enjoys a typical French summer of apéritifs and family rows before returning to Paris and opening his English tea room. The book went to number one in the UK, briefly toppling Harry Potter from the top spot.

What followed was Merde Happens, about a road trip in a Mini across the USA from New York to LA, during which Paul tries to sell the UK as a tourist destination, with his French girlfriend as cynical co-pilot.

Next came Dial M for Merde, a spoof thriller set in the south coast of France, with Paul migrating from Collioure in the west (one of Matisse's favourite haunts), through the haunting weirdness of the Camargue, the idyllic bay of Bandol, to the farcical snobbery of Saint Tropez.

After this, Clarke decided that Paul West had had enough luxury, and sent him back, penniless, to Paris, to live in a chambre de bonne with leaky plumbing, as he tries to get the kstablest job on the planet, as a French civil servant. The result was The Merde Factor.

The latest in the series is Merde in Europe (2016), in which Paul West works for a French Member of the European Parliament.  He tries to sort out the real issues at stake in the Brexit debate, revealing everything idealistically good, and crazily bad, about the EU. He also examines fake news being published about Brussels by the British press, from the EU wanting to ban bagpipes, to a "scientific study" proving that euro banknotes can make men impotent.

Stephen Clarke’s other books on France:
Talk to the Snail, the Ten Commandments for Understanding the French (2006)
1000 Years of Annoying the French (2010)
Paris Revealed, the Secret Life of a City (2011)
Dirty Bertie, an English King Made in France (2013)
How the French Won Waterloo, Or Think They Did (2015)

For more details see: www.stephenclarkewriter.com

Date:        February 12, 2018
Time:       19h - 21h
Location: Highlander Pub
                  8 rue de Nevers
                  75006 PARIS
Metro:       Mabillion

Tickets: 25 for Members and Guests, which includes a glass of wine, beer or a soft drink.

Book your tickets here, for what promises to be a great night out! 

For more details about WICE's 40th Anniversary and our other courses and events, check out the new WICE 40 page.

Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
01 45 66 7550

December 22, 2017

Come Party With WICE and Celebrate 40 Great Years!

The year 2018 marks our 40th anniversary!  WICE is one of the longest serving volunteer-run cultural associations for the international community in Paris.  And like a fine French wine, we’re just getting better with time.

Our members, from six continents and from diverse backgrounds, form lasting friendships at WICE.  Run by volunteers, these dedicated men and women of WICE  organize all kinds of learning opportunities, including languages, Paris tours, cooking, history, writing, photography, film and the visual arts.  Recently, we’ve added more purely social gatherings, such as our monthly apéro parties.

We’ll be celebrating un certain âge with a host of exciting events all year.  Keep your eyes peeled for new announcements so you can join in the fun!

At our relaunched new-look website, you can register for all activities, across all of our departments.  

Here’s a sneak preview of 2018 courses and events:

December 19, 2017

Happy Holidays: Paris in Sparkle Mode

The Famous Galeries Lafayette Holiday Tree (Photo © Sarah Fauvel)
Winter weather (snow!) and glittering holiday lights mark the beginning of the holiday season, when the City of Light starts to really sparkle. From the joyous department store decorations to festive sapins in the street to the holiday fairs in St Germain, La Defense, and Bercy Village, every neighborhood has its own way of celebrating.

Galeries Lafayette Window (Photo © Cassandra Parkinson) 
Photography instructor Meredith Mullins and a merry band of adventurous WICE photographers went in search of the essence of the season.

Photographer Cassandra Parkinson Takes Aim (Photo © Rick Braswell)
They captured candid street moments, the beauty of moving lights (with camera twirls and zoom bursts), lively store windows, and the glory of the Galeries Lafayette traditional tree (well, not so traditional this year).

November 29, 2017

Put It In Words, At WICE!

In 2018, the Paris Writers Workshop is back!  And centre-stage for the special festivities of the 40-year anniversary of WICE.

The WICE Paris Writers Workshop, our flagship event that runs in late spring every two years, has long been the cornerstone of our program.  The quality of instruction in craft, technique, critiques, discussions and seminars for 48 writers has attracted candidates from the US, other countries around Europe, and right here in Paris.

For your novel or story - get writing!
Dimitri Keramitas, Director of WICE creative writing programs, aims to bring some synergy  between this year’s Workshop and the rest of our writing courses.  The range of both includes creative non-fiction, short stories, novels, and a new focus on poetry.  

A Greek-American in love with Paris since the 1980’s, Dimitri has a degree in literature from the University of Hartford, in French from the Sorbonne, and law at from the University of London.  He raised a son and daughter here, now students themselves.  

Dimitri first joined WICE through taking part in the prestigious Paris Writers Workshop four times before eventually leading the organising committee.

For Dimitri, the priority is balance.  For his own career, he’s balanced his solitary writing and translating activities with getting out and about teaching law and literature at universities, grandes écoles, and écoles de commerce.  

He says,I wanted a balance between the sedentary and quiet writing life with the more active and sociable teaching.  I also wanted a balance between writing fiction and non-fiction, and I try to bring that type of balance to our creative writing programs.”

He’s published short stories and completed a novel, set in Greece where he has a second home.  Meanwhile, he’s lingered in some of the most iconic arthouse cinemas of Paris, preparing essays for scholarly publications and books on such subjects as racial stereotypes and the treatment of war in film, among other non-fiction work.

Dimitri feels there’s no better setting for writers from around the world than Paris, long a muse city and world cultural hub.

“We wanted to bring the city of Paris as a central theme, so last year we had a course on Paris vignettes and travel blogging, and this year on memoirs, to encourage people to focus on their personal lives and their surroundings.  The fiction approach is to relate your outside world experience as refracted from your own inner vision.  It’s about making use of where you are!”

“We are of course non-profit, and our writing programs are very affordable while keeping a distinguishing commitment to quality.  We limit participation to 12 people for each of the 4 Paris Writers Workshop seminars, and 8 for our writing classes, to ensure that quality.   We want the program to be adapted to the ways things are changing in the cultural context and the evolving publishing world of ebooks, self-publishing, and blogging.  The content will be up-to-date and relevant with both the classic workshop structures and what’s new — back to my old theme of balance!”

Previous venues have been the University of Paris or UNESCO.  Dimitri says, “Our search for the next venue has led to Forum 104, in the heart of Paris.  That’ll be a comfortable space for sharing manuscripts, reading and exchanging for five days with four lecturers.  We’ll keep you posted on the deadline so you can prepare your manuscripts to apply for what we hope to be an exciting program for our anniversary year!”

For a full list of creative writing courses throughout the year, see our website!
A discounted early bird rate will be available for the Paris Writers Workshop...

Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
01 45 66 7550

Post by Elizabeth Bouché