Paperbacks: I Wish Someone Were Waiting For Me Somewhere, by Anna Gavalda

French novelists aren't noted for their unaffected prose, but Anna Gavalda's no-frills short stories set in Paris's more salubrious brasseries and banlieues cut straight to the chase.

Confessional and chatty, these tart tales of fatal accidents, brief encounters and medical mishaps amuse and engage. As one lonely heart says: "'I'm like a character out of a Brétecher comic strip: a girl seated on a bench with a sign around her neck: 'I want love,' and tears spouting like two fountains from either side of her eyes. I can see it now. What a sight."