Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
2009.04.27: Le 21e Arrondissement
Plus Orwell Complet
"All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery."
- George Orwell, Why I Write

Well, it's official: Kensington is now the 21e Arrondissement.

This eternally trendy neighbourhood of the Royal Burrough (of Kensington & Chelsea) has, of course, long been famous for being chock-a-block with both Americans and French. But lately the latter have been gaining ground. So when Anna and I walked out yesterday, of a really lovely spring day, for a cheeky afternoon pint at one of our locals, followed by a poke around a book shop, we weren't surprised to pass two families, in sequence, chattering in French – little Francophone moppets all muslin-clad and chirruping winningly.

Nor were we much surprised, coming back down a cute little back street, to realise for the first time that there were three French joints in a row (the kind of joints that cater to French people, not to trendy Francophiles) out of the eight or so shops in view.

You can travel there yourself with the magic of <a class="weblink" target="_new" href="http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&sll=30.375321,69.345116&sspn=21.784745,46.582031&ie=UTF8&ll=51.496721,-0.19284&spn=0.003854,0.01545&z=17&layer=c&cbll=51.496722,-0.192685&panoid=Pzwu9pyctmhZf_FAkKHiOQ&cbp=12,318.55677121101644,,0,4.8125">Google Streetview</a>.

And I suppose we weren't completely shocked to find that both of the employees – in that traditionally British high street off-license, Oddbins, where we stopped to pick up a couple for home for later – were French guys. However, they weren't just French guys – they were actually French, I mean positively Parisian: slouching behind the counter with an open bottle of red wine for themselves and two half-emptied glasses glinting in the reflected sunlight. And then we saw that the card PIN pad was set to French rather than English.

The Battle of Waterloo may as well never have been fought. Londres Ouest, c'est Francais.

In unrelated news: I decided some serious reading progress was in order, so I hefted Gravity's Rainbow off the shelf. (Joe refers to his copy as "the bowling ball" – he keeps it on the top shelf of a hall closet and once a year drags it down for another go.) It seemed like it was time. But, I have to confess, 95 pages in, it got the better of me. "Just not in the mood right now," I told myself, heaving it back up to its spot. I think I really meant I wasn't feeling up to it.

Still feeling like I needed to make some progress on something important, I turned to my new prize possession: a couple of weeks ago, I finally stumbled on all four volumes of Orwell's Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters. (Suitably, at the Gloucester Road Bookshop – the one run by Graham Greene's nephew and where I met Anna.)

I've had, erm, Volume 3 in hand for about three years (a pale blue Penguin Modern Classics edition); and I remember thinking, Hey, I'll find Volumes 1, 2 and 4 any day now! That was three years ago. Tough ticket. (I did find a hardcover set in one of the Charing Cross Road bookshops – and very nearly sprang the required 150.00. But not quite.)

Anyway, I've now started into them – and it feels like coming home. Orwell's essays are, quite simply, indispensible.

  books     london     orwell  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
from email:

to email(s) (separate w/commas):
By subscribing to Dispatch from the Razor’s Edge, you will receive occasional alerts about new dispatches. Your address is totally safe with us. You can unsubscribe at any time. All the cool kids are doing it.