The Mountains of Paris: How Awe and Wonder Rewrote My Life
by David Oates
Oregon State University Press

"People are starving to death on this diet of fakery. They ought to be fed the real—though invisible—intangibleness of the deep present, the sublime of connectedness that binds us together now, in this moment."

Elegant and intellectual, this collection of essays transports readers into the heart and soul of a Paris many have never experienced. With intimate reflections that portray Parisian life, offerings such as "At Home (or Not) in Paris" discuss the struggles and joys of cultural acclimation: "Just us, temporaries and permanents, snapping by on errands and trysts, or sitting vacantly, or sauntering toward coffee on musing walks." Other essays, like "Sehnsucht and the Deep Present," illuminate the internal conflicts faced by individuals fighting for their rightful place in this world: "I was a chaos: the gay kid in the Baptist pew, the one God hated with an appalling specificity." Meanwhile, readers follow the speaker's literal, metaphorical, physical, and spiritual journeys, encountering the enlightenment that a soul and an intellect well-nourished through the pursuit of passions and the cultivation of talents can offer.

With an immediate clarity so rare in most contemporary nonfiction, this book draws readers into relevant conversations about faith, identity, and place. Like Melissa Faliveno's daring collection Tomboyland, this collection examines the undeniable ways in which place shapes not only the individual but also the path an individual pursues in order to feel whole. Most importantly, what these essays give readers is an inspiration to never stifle their curiosities and to find and pursue the awe and the wonder that small joys like art, music, and culture offer the individual. Throughout the collection, readers discover positive insights sure to inspire more fruitful living as readers are reminded of the connectedness all humans share: "Pride, vanity, futility. It's a lot of what we share, after all." This book is highly recommended for nonfiction fans, and it is a must-read for anyone still searching for that one place that undeniably shapes one into their truest self.

Winner of the 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award Memoir Category

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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