Competition: LITERALLY LOST: 52

This excerpt has been taken from a work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us:

a) where is the action taking place?

b) who is the author?

Blackwell's Bookshops will award pounds 30 worth of book tokens to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by this Thursday.

The streets of -- inform us as to the two essential pleasures of the local youth: getting one's shoes shined and displaying those same shoes on the boulevard. In order to have a clear idea of the first of these delights, one has to entrust one's shoes, at ten o'clock on a Sunday morning, to the shoe-shiners in Boulevard Gallieni. Perched on a high arm-chair, one can enjoy that peculiar satisfaction produced, even upon a rank outsider, by the sight of men in love with their job as the shoe-shiners of -- obviously are. Everything is worked over in detail. Several brushes, three kinds of cloths, the polish mixed with gasoline. One might think the operation is finished when a perfect shine comes to life under the soft brush. But the same insistent hand covers the glossy surface again with polish, rubs it, dulls it, makes the cream penetrate the heart of the leather and then brings forth, under the same brush, a double and really definitive gloss sprung from the depths of the leather.

The wonders achieved in this way are then exhibited to the connoisseurs. In order to appreciate such pleasures of the boulevard you ought to see the masquerade of youth taking place every evening on the main arteries of the city. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty the young people of -- "society" borrow their models of elegance from American films and put on their fancy dress before going out to dinner. With wavy, oiled hair protruding from under a felt hat slanted over the left ear and peaked over the right eye, the neck encircled by a collar big enough to accommodate the straggling hair, the microscopic knot of the necktie kept in place by a regulation pin, with thigh-length coat and waist close to the hips, with light-coloured and noticeably short trousers, with dazzlingly shiny triple-soled shoes, every evening those youths make the pavements ring with their metal-tipped soles. In all things they are bent on imitating the bearing, forthrightness and superiority of Mr Clark Gable. For this reason the local carpers commonly nickname those youths, by favour of a casual pronunciation, "Clarques".

At any rate, the main boulevards of -- are invaded late in the afternoon by an army of attractive adolescents who go to the greatest trouble to look like a bad lot. Inasmuch as the girls of -- feel traditionally engaged to these soft-hearted gangsters, they likewise flaunt the make-up and elegance of popular American actresses. Consequently, the same wits call them "Marlenes".

Literally Lost 52: The book was Travels in Hyper Reality by Umberto Eco. The action took place in California. The winner is Laura Lau of West Wycombe.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

    £7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea