Reads from (not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living, a sequel of sorts to I’ll Never Be French (no matter what I do), about which the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “Imagine Larry David . . . spending a summer in a French village–against his will, of course–and you get some sense of what Mark Greenside goes through.”
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Every year upon arriving in Plobien, the small Breton town where he spends his summers, Mark Greenside picks back up where he left off with his faux-pas-filled Francophile life. Mellowed and humbled, but not daunted (OK, slightly daunted), he faces imminent concerns: What does he cook for a French person? Who has the right-of-way when entering or exiting a roundabout? Where does he pay for a parking ticket? And most dauntingly of all, when can he touch the tomatoes?
Despite the two decades that have passed since Greenside’s snap decision to buy a house in Brittany and begin a bi-continental life, the quirks of French living still manage to confound him. Continuing the journey begun in his 2009 memoir about beginning life in France, (not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living details Greenside’s daily adventures in his adopted French home, where the simplest tasks are never straightforward but always end in a great story. Through some hits and lots of misses, he learns the rules of engagement, how he gets what he needs–which is not necessarily what he thinks he wants–and how to be grateful and thankful when (especially when) he fails, which is more often than he can believe.
Mark Greenside has been a civil rights activist, Vietnam War protestor, anti-draft counselor, Vista Volunteer, union leader, and college professor. His short stories have appeared in numerous journals and he is the author of a collection, I Saw a Man Hit His Wife. Greenside resides in Alameda and Brittany.