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The Secret Life of the Seine (1994)

de Mort Rosenblum

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Mort Rosenblum, a celebrated foreign correspondent, invites us aboard his fifty-four-foot launch tied up in the center of Paris and introduces us to the characters who share his life along the river, ranging from eccentric movie stars and reclusive novelists to barge families just scraping by. He then hauls in the bow line for an unforgettable tour of the river itself from its source to its mouth. The Secret Life of the Seine is a love story between man and boat and the river that they live on, a discourse on the sensual beauty of France and the art of living well. In the tradition of A Year in Provence, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Paris to the Moon, here is what Garry Trudeau called "a moveable feast [with] a top speed of five knots--fast enough for fun, languid enough for dreaming. Take a trip you'll never take: This is what books are for."… (mais)
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The Seine is a river that enchants virtually everyone who sees it. Its banks are replete with history and beautiful scenery, and, while it's no Mississippi, it has shoals and sand bars enough for river men to constantly mark the twain.

Rosenblum decided to write a book about the Seine's secret life that he discovered almost by chance. He and his girlfriend lost the lease on their apartment so they purchased a fifty-four foot ex-yacht from some friends who coincidentally had to return to England. La Vieille - appropriately named because it has multiple meanings in French: the old bitch, the old lady, one's wife - had been their home for many years.

Soon Rosenblum learned why they had enjoyed it so much. The busy traffic the port of Paris handled the equivalent of a million truckloads of material - means that sleeping is often like being subjected to a multitude of minor earthquakes. It's not a good place if you habitually drop your keys. A next door neighbor dropped hers overboard and the services of an entire department frogmen were needed to retrieve them.

The Seine had a downside. Often the river's contents could make an environmentalist gag, and scientists have discovered fifty-seven different kinds of pollutants. Historical traditions occasionally reflected excess. In 1958, watching from a bridge, one could see log-like objects floating past Closer inspection revealed the bodies of Algerians killed as reprisal for Frenchmen murdered in Algiers. Tradition required the bodies be dumped in the river. Where they eventually landed is perhaps better not asked. Today, a huge net traps everything that comes down the river, and anything resembling human remains is investigated and reported.
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Mort Rosenblum, a celebrated foreign correspondent, invites us aboard his fifty-four-foot launch tied up in the center of Paris and introduces us to the characters who share his life along the river, ranging from eccentric movie stars and reclusive novelists to barge families just scraping by. He then hauls in the bow line for an unforgettable tour of the river itself from its source to its mouth. The Secret Life of the Seine is a love story between man and boat and the river that they live on, a discourse on the sensual beauty of France and the art of living well. In the tradition of A Year in Provence, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Paris to the Moon, here is what Garry Trudeau called "a moveable feast [with] a top speed of five knots--fast enough for fun, languid enough for dreaming. Take a trip you'll never take: This is what books are for."

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