Rue de la Pompe: A Satiric Urban Fantasy
James Earle McCracken
Celebrating his thirtieth birthday alone in Paris, American businessman Michael Whyte realizes that it’s entirely possible to live an unglamorous life in the most glamorous city in the world. But an unexpected gift of formal wear followed by a party invitation from his eccentric neighbors lands him in a curious search for the first French franc—a coin said to be incredibly valuable and wickedly dangerous.
Guided by a deaf-mute and mentored by an epistemologist, Michael careens across the city in his quest for the coin. From the Chateau de Vincennes and the Musée d’Orsay to the sewers of Paris and the base of the Eiffel Tower, he braves the city for an answer to the perplexing question of the franc’s true nature.
Assisting, thwarting, or simply confusing him along the way is a bizarre collection of lunatic personalities, including a Castilian hit man, a Zen Buddhist Swiss jeweler, a flatulent statue of Benjamin Franklin, a foul-mouthed rhinoceros, the Concierge from Hell, and an enigmatic beauty named Chione.
Unforgettable characters and vivacious details make James Earle McCracken’s debut novel sizzle with expectation. Both hilarious and introspective, Rue de la Pompe is a fast-paced ride through the City of Lights with a hapless American who is caught in an exhilarating journey of discovery.
“Maybe I don’t like Paris after all,” Mikey said.
Michael was unsure why the confession felt like an admission of defeat. Four months after his arrival, he remained ambivalent toward living and working in Paris. On the good days, the city struck Michael as a beautiful woman that wasn’t his type; the rest of the time, Paris was a bad summer camp with weird counselors and lousy toilets. He had come to the City of Lights looking for magic, but instead had discovered that living an unglamorous life in a glamorous location was entirely possible.
“Oh, boo hoo,” said Smart Ass, another of Michael’s streams of consciousness. “If I’m done wetting my pants over bumping into the little girl, could I find a freaking beer?”