No. 91/92

Lauren Elkin


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Les Fugitives
7 September 2021
ISBN: 9781838014186
125 pages

From the publisher

Best-selling author of Flâneuse: Women Walk the City joins the bus commuter crowds in this love letter to Paris, written in iPhone notes.

Commuting between English and French, Lauren Elkin chronicles a life in transit. From musings on Virginia Woolf and Georges Perec, to her first impressions in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, to the discovery of her ectopic pregnancy, her diary sketches a portrait of the author, not as an artist, but as a pregnant woman on a Parisian bus. In the troubling intimacy of public transport, Elkin queries the lines between togetherness and being apart, between the everyday and the eventful, registering the ordinary makings of a city and its people.

‘Paris in intense, dramatic closeup — an insider's entrancing view. Lauren Elkin turns her phone outwards, like a camera to see with, she writes about the outside world while inside a glass container (the bus), she maps the inner world of self and indeed of the bus onto the outer world she is travelling through. She allows herself to catch moments most writers would think don't belong in a text. The book's form perfectly embodies its content. It is disarmingly modest and that is part of its charm. She is thinking about self / community. Re-making it.’ — Michèle Roberts

‘Like the windows of the 91/92 bus, Elkin's book is as much an illuminating mirror of many angles as it is a cinema screen. All of these encounters and thoughts build up a compelling portrait of the many cities that hide within the singular name of Paris and the many selves we contain.’ — Darrran Anderson, author of Inventory

‘Paris – as viewed from the vantage point of a daily bus journey – is not so much exhausted as it is enchanted by the gift of attention: the work glitters with life.’— Jenn Ashworth, author of Notes Made While Falling

‘Elkin collects insights, images and stray conversation, her notes becoming a portal into the unconscious life of the city. She cultivates empathy for her fellow travellers, recognising in them the possibility for meaningful connection.’ — Laura Grace Ford, author of Savage Messiah

‘Lauren Elkin’s commuter buses comprise a world where all existential concerns are present – the embodied self, the individual in society, and the bond of casual community. Within this constrained world Elkin observes and dramatizes “the morning thumb ballet of checking all the things I check on my phone” while confronting all that it means to be human.’ — Sarah Manguso, author of Ongoingness

‘Like sitting between Perec and Anne Garreta on a cross-town bus (this is the highest of compliments).’ — Jonny Diamond, on Twitter