Q&A with Author Scott Carpenter

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Q&A with Author Scott Carpenter
Scott Dominic Carpenter is the author of French Like Moi: A Midwesterner in Paris. His bio tells us that on his way to academia he “staggered from one bizarre job to another” including “house painting, uranium mining, factory work, slave labor in a French château, coastline preservation in Brittany, every imaginable aspect of the restaurant industry, and small engine repair” among other things. He now teaches literature and creative writing at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He recently took the time to answer Janet Hulstrand’s questions about “French Like Moi” in this interview for Bonjour Paris. Janet Hulstrand: When did you buy your apartment in Paris? And how long had you been coming to Paris on a regular basis before that? Also, how much time do you spend in Paris now, and do you plan to eventually live there full-time? Scott Dominic Carpenter: Goodness! We bought the apartment over 10 years ago now. The anecdotes in the book start with that sabbatical year, but they then glide into more recent events. For example, the chapter “Too Soon, Too Close” deals with the 2015 terrorist attacks. Otherwise, I’d been coming to Paris part-time for years — indeed, nearly three decades. Sometimes for a month or two, sometimes for most of a year — but always living in rented hovels. I still have the apartment, though going back and forth right now is, um, challenging. I don’t plan to move to France 100 percent; I rather like having my life divided between two places. Scott Carpenter. © Scott Dominic Carpenter JH: What made you decide to take the bold step of becoming a homeowner in France? You’ve described some of the adventures of this bold step quite humorously in your book. Do you ever have moments of wishing you hadn’t done it? SDC: Well, at this very moment I’m trying to deal with water damage from the apartment above me, handling it all by phone during Covid, so there are definitely times I question the sanity of buying that apartment. But my wife and I grew so tired of living in expensive-but-shoddy apartments during our stays in Paris — patio furniture in the dining room, cardboard boxes for dressers — that I realized we had to take the plunge. That kind of living is charming when you’re a student. It becomes humiliating as you get older! Parisian apartment, (C) Unsplash

Lead photo credit : What is your story sign. (C) Unsplash

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Janet Hulstrand is a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and teacher who divides her time between France and the U.S. She is the author of "Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You," and "A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France." She writes frequently about France for Bonjour Paris, France Today, and a variety of other publications, including her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She has taught “Paris: A Literary Adventure” for education abroad programs of the City University of New York since 1997, and she teaches online classes for Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C. She is currently working on her next book in Essoyes, a beautiful little village in Champagne.


  • Jacqueline Holecek
    2021-04-29 06:37:46
    Jacqueline Holecek
    Extremely interesting. My husband and I have been going to France for almost 20 years. We usually go to Nice. We look forward to our vacation each year and we’re so disappointed not to be able to go in 2020 and this year. I taught high school French and German for a few years ( many years ago) and try to speak French when in France. I studied French in high school and college because of my parents’ influence. They were European and escaped persecution in 1939. They left from Paris.