Opening Riff

Un chalereux salut de Paris and a warm welcome to Continental Riffs 2024, where we’re cruising towards 120 short essays after two years plus. Imagine you’ve walked into a bar on one of those curving side streets, name you can’t remember, bar with a long counter, maybe a little dark, discrete, the place you find when you need it. You’re here. Maybe you too find Paris, and Europe, both impossible and irresistible.

Place d’italie, Gilets Jaunes demo 2019.

No matter what the event there must be witness.

What exactly is Europe ? A conglomeration of countries ? And France, can you get to know it ? Can Europe be written about in such a way as to interest Americans, who make up the majority of visitors to Substack ? For many in the angloparlante world, there is a second France, a cloud France, that exists alongside the real thing. Is it possible that writing from Europe might make things clearer, more vital ? Or maybe more fuzzy, in the good sense ?    

The Wheelhouse

You can find my articles and fiction on Medium, Counterpunch, The Baffler, as well as other, more obscure corners of the internet. My serio-comic anti-detective novel, Volte-Face Paris is in the layout stages now.

In the now-time, I’m a hustling immigrant with three off-the-books jobs and his papers sitting at the Préfec waiting for that big Oui or Non! to tell me whether I exist as a legal entity on this continent. If France says no…well then, what ? There’s always Budapest or maybe…No home to go home to, so here I stay. With papers in hand this spring, the plan is to launch a small publishing house to get the work of myself and other wandering stars out.

I’ve launched a few semi-regular appearing series here on Riffs: The Sunday Art Detective, Passing Acquaintances, which offers profiles of writers and artists and run when I get the time. Paid subscription’s a steal at 30 a year. Cancel any time you like.

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Europe Present Tense

People

James Graham

Paris-based, Euro-reporting writer and raconteur. Plenty of words and plenty of trouble. Recent stories on Baffler, Conjunctions, Counterpunch, KGB bar lit. Plouc de Paris is the novel you want to read.