Posts Tagged ‘Will Travel For Words’

Guest Blog: Susan Winkler

March 6th, 2015 • by Karen A. Chase • No Comments

Today on Compositions, I welcome author and Paris-lover, Susan Winkler. Her new book, Portrait of a Woman in White, is set in WWII Paris. She joins us today to chat about how her love of Paris began with the movie Gigi.

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I fell in love with Paris when I was very young and saw the movie Gigi, at an outdoor drive-in with my parents and grandparents, in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Portland, with our 3 black and white TV channels was all I knew, so Gigi’s Paris and the belle époque offered another window onto life that yearned to explore.

I was 18 when I first traveled to Paris, to spend a summer, and stayed for the next year and beyond studying literature, art, linguistics, and of course, life. Outside my small academic program, many of my friends were journalists and filmmakers who flocked to Paris from around the world. I wrote for an American newsletter and had a press pass to the Venice and Cannes film festivals. When I came back and began grad school in French literature at Stanford, I missed Paris terribly.

There is something about the abroad experience when you are young, and not traveling with mom and dad, that can feed the imagination forever. I was predisposed to love the city, it’s attention to visual detail, and its incomparable beauty. Plus, I love speaking the language and becoming someone else when I am there.

I was very fortunate, over 20 years ago, to be asked by a publisher to write a guidebook to Paris (The Paris Shopping Companion), allowing me to endlessly explore my favorite city. But no matter how many trips I make, I never get to the bottom of my must-do list. So much to see, eat, do!

In my new novel, PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN WHITE, I explore WWII France, lovers, and a Matisse painting looted by Nazis.

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Words from Paris

January 16th, 2015 • by Karen A. Chase • No Comments

In support of my dear Parisians, I repost this excerpt from my book Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log. I am so proud of the 1.6 million+ people in Paris (and the other millions across France and the world) who marched in solidarity for a better world. Hand-in-hand, in the largest demonstration in French history, they reminded me of what I felt visiting the Eiffel Tower a few years ago…

The view from the Wall of Peace, looking through the glass partitions that  surround it. The glass is etched with signs of peace in forty-nine languages and eighteen alphabets.

The view from the Wall of Peace, looking through the glass partitions that surround it. The glass is etched with signs of peace in forty-nine languages and eighteen alphabets.

Eiffel Tower } Day 10 ~ April 30

Tourists abound in Paris. And in no other place are they (we) more prolific than around the Eiffel Tower. It’s a national landmark, built in honor of the World’s Fair held here in 1889 commemorating the centenary of the French Revolution. Websites, guidebooks, tours, and the museum near the top of the tower provide all of the facts and details surrounding it, but it is the feeling of the whole area that left a greater impression upon me.

Under the shadow of that sculpture and the trees, upon the green grass, I sat with families of various nationalities, generations, and genders playing and picnicking with their children. Couples napped together holding hands, making me miss Ted. Dogs romped and played. I helped take photos for strangers so they could be together in their photo (one of my favorite things to do on vacation), and a smiling couple helped take one of me. Some people sat quietly alone just taking it all in.

Approximately 7 million visitors come here each year, and it’s impossible to count how many countries could be represented at any given moment. At the foot of the tower is a newer monument built in 2000 called the Wall for Peace, which was inspired by the Wailing Wall. People can insert messages of peace into the chinks in the wall. After they do, many walk the distance to the tower, across the lawn of the Parc du Champs de Mars. If they stop, even for an instant, and simply look around them, they will see something remarkable.

They will see what I saw: Their wish has come true. For all walks of life are there together. Just being. At peace. Together.

Traveling to Sit Still

September 27th, 2013 • by Karen A. Chase • 1 Comment

When at home, I sit. Sit to write. Sit to read. Sit until my legs go numb. While on holiday, as we are now, I like to move. But since we left Richmond Wednesday, I’ve been sitting. Waiting for planes. In the plane (sleeping was even done while sitting). In a car with friends going for lunch and coming to their place. Then dinner. Then breakfast. True, we took a short walk in between. True, we also sat and had some of the best bread I’ve eaten in two years for lunch, and today the nicest tart with coconut and lavender. (Ted thought it tasted like soap, I thought it tasted like heaven.)

However, one cannot complain about all the sitting required to wander around France. It is a luxury. And for a writer, a necessity. Why? Details. When one rushes through life, the world is a blur. When I sit at home in front of my computer writing, the world is out of focus. So I must stop and gather data for the future.

So today I sat with dear friends sharing stories and wine at one of only four restaurant tables among the little cobblestone streets of Simiane la Rotonde-a charming little village where the cars park above or below the town and you wak in. I sketched.  I saw the streets. I saw a man who wandered the town looking for his lost girlfriend, and three minutes later I saw the girlfriend looking for the boyfriend she believed to be lost. I saw friendly people serving lunch amid geraniums waving hello, as an old wooden door up the curving walk tugs at my curiosity.

By sitting, by sketching, I actively slowed down time, and relished in the details that will add to my memory, add to my ability to see. I will save all of it for another story.

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