Plenty of Sex & Nowhere to Sit

51aBYccWePL._SX327_BO1 204 203 200_Kevin Jackson at Literary Review:

For a book that is crammed with adulteries, alcoholism, betrayals, broken friendships, deportations, deprivation, drug addiction, executions, humiliation, illicit abortions, imprisonment, murder, Nazi atrocities, starvation, torture chambers (on the avenue Hoche, passers-by could hear the screams coming up from the cellars’ air vents), treason and worse, Agnès Poirier’s Left Bank is a remarkably exhilarating read.

Above all, it has a terrific cast, with, as leading players, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The novelist, jazz musician and pataphysician Boris Vian, Samuel Beckett and the resident aliens Picasso and Giacometti also feature, as do brilliant African-American musicians and writers such as Miles Davis, James Baldwin and Richard Wright, the vehemently anti-communist Hungarian writer and wife-beater Arthur Koestler and, among the occupiers, the sinister but fascinating German Ernst Jünger, aesthete, entomologist and polymath.

Left Bank is an enchanting account of how these exceptionally talented and original people not merely endured these harsh years but also found pleasure, and even a kind of joy, in creating small pockets of private utopia.

more here.