Twelve stories depicting Americans in France, a broad array of characters and situations- -a boozy basketball player colliding with bigotry; a vet at Omaha Beach confronting a memory; a boy sent abroad while his parents divorce; a jealous sister coveting one last heirloom; a killer seeking peace at Lake Geneva; a pharmacist shielding his suspect wife; an American woman who’s never lived in America; sons bullied by fathers; a relentless dreamer about to go illegal. All seek the enchantment, refuge or even forgiveness France might offer. But they can’t quite discard the baggage they carry.
David R. Poe, born in Buffalo, has lived and written in France for thirty years. He continues to live in Paris and Normandy with his wife and son.
David Poe’s eclectic collection is filled with gripping and edgy truths about meandering (sometimes twisted) human relationships, love and lack of love, the inexplicable lives we all live, whet- her we’re amateur basketball players, disrespected gardeners, assassins, unfaithful wives, or philandering husbands. These thirteen stories teem with humanity, kindness, compassion and sporadic cruelty. French Kisses is a feast of superbly drawn characters who will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page and set the book aside.
David Poe’s masterfully drawn characters offer a fine opportunity to experience the tensions between French and American culture. The attraction of two adolescents, an American boy and a more experienced French girl; the involvement of an American with the abused wife of his concierge almost on the eve of his own wed- ding; the exposure of a French gardener who has stolen a fishing lure from his American employer after his release from prison— in such situations Poe explores the complexities and ironies, the common human predicaments emerging from the deeper mysteries of personality. Engaging as well as profound, witty and compelling, French Kisses is a gem.
David Poe is an American living in France, but he writes like an insider to the culture and the people. These “ordinary” people, the characters he crafts into his intriguing short stories, are damaged in one way or another. Sad, moving and funny, we share their double world existence. This book holds no clichés, but gives a sensitive, deep-soul view into pasts and presents, losses and discoveries, France and America.
—Connie Borde & Sheila Malovany Chevallier Americans living in France and translators, notably of The Second Sex (Simone de Beauvoir)
A new book of short stories “French Kisses” by David Poe draws on his thirty years living the expatriate life in France. His well crafted stories have the taste of a mature wine. He is clearly someone who knows the culture here and is a man who knows what you get living a life abroad… and also what one gives up with such a life. Twelve stories depicting Americans in France, a broad array of characters and situations —a boozy basketball player colliding with bigotry; a vet at Omaha Beach confronting a memory; a boy sent abroad while his parents divorce; a jealous sister coveting one last heirloom; a killer seeking peace at Lake Geneva; a pharmacist shielding his suspect wife… All seek the enchantment, refuge or even forgiveness France might offer. But they can’t quite discard the baggage they carry. It is weaving stories around this conflict where Poe is at his strongest while providing us tales from the heart.
—Review in Paris Voice