From Elaine’s Lumière column for T Magazine’s The Moment.
Conde Nast Archive/Corbis
Despite the economic crisis gripping Europe, there is one industry in France that is still going strong: the discovery, telling and selling of secrets. I confess to being a sucker for books about secrets, of which I have dozens, organized in three subject areas.
First come the current events’ secrets, with titles like, “Secret Notebooks of a Presidency” and “The Secret Stories of Miss France.” At the moment, the No. 1 nonfiction book in France is “La République des Mallettes” (The Briefcase Republic), an exposé by Pierre Péan about the suitcases of money delivered by African leaders to top French politicians.
Second are the volumes of travel secrets, most of them about Paris. I have books about the city’s secret churches, small museums, night life, gardens, places to kiss, reduce stress, drink tea. “Unexplored Paris” tells me where to find country streets, a beehive, a windmill, the last outdoor public urinal, a 17th-century Metro station. “The Hidden Side of Buttocks” shows me more backsides in French art than I will ever want to see.