Paperback: The Flâneur, by Edmund White

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The Independent Culture

This elegant saunter around the streets of Paris touches on spots both familiar – St Germain is "a beatnik brat grown up to be an elegant and rather brainless matron" – and specialised: "Some of my happiest moments have been spent making love to a stranger beside dark, swiftly moving water below aglowing city." Whether he takes us into the entrancing past, with Theophile Gautier eating green, jellified marijuana at Le Club des Hachichins, or themundane present, typified by the new Bastille opera house like "a cow palace in Fort Worth", White is a wholly engaging guide to the city in which he spent 17 years of his life.