Two Towns in Provence

Fisher, MFK. Two Towns in Provence: Map of Another Town. New York: Vintage Books, 1983.

Reason read: to finish the collection started in April in honor of Paris.

Two Towns in Provence contains two shorter geographical portraits, Map of Another Town and A Considerable Town. Confessional: I read them backwards: I thought Considerable Town was first until I received Two Towns in Provence.
There is no doubt a love-hate story within the pages of Two Towns. Fisher’s connection to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille couldn’t be clearer. In Map of Another Town Fisher focuses on Aix-en-Provence, France’s capital. Her stories weave around her time bringing up two small daughters, renting an apartment, and observing people and their culture. She spends a fair amount of time having imaginary exchanges with the locals. Most striking were the lessons on society and class: no matter the level of distress a person should not accept help from someone of a lower class and getting a child vaccinated was a process.

Quotes I’d like to quote, “It pressed upon my skin like the cold body of someone unloved” (p 17), “I wrapped myself in my innocence” (p 125), and “He was a man of the same indescribably malnourished twisted non-age of all such physical jetsam being helped by government benevolence…” (p 200).

Author fact: Once I am attuned to a language I seem to latch onto it. Words like evil, dangerous, hell, shabby, grotesque, dirty, desolate…Fisher complains for a lot of Map of another Town. I don’t know what it was about her tone, but she came across as bitchy to me. Fisher seems uncomfortable with the sick or elderly, always hurrying away from the dying. She seems easily annoyed by those around her.

Book trivia: Map of Another Town has wonderful illustrations by Barbara Westman. In the midst of this coloring craze, I could see someone filling in the black and white drawings with a little color.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Provence and the South of France” (p 187).

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