Read Rosecrans Baldwin's hilarious new memoir. Buy it here. See him at Flyleaf May 1st at 7pm.
Months ago before I had the chance to read Rosecrans' memoir, I had the pleasure of attending a small dinner party hosted by him and his wife Rachel. The weather was nice enough that a long table on the porch was set. Before the introductions were done the hosts put a drink in my hand and made me feel comfortable. As evening darkened candles and hanging lights brought a pleasant ambiguity of place -- being out in the country, they brought me to the city, as if the lights were ambient glow of city buildings, of streetlights and signage. But if I were in the city, atop some highrise, I am sure these same lights would transport me to the country, the string of lights the stars, or somesuch. In other words, I felt transported and I attribute this to Rosecrans and Rachel. Unlike other doting hosts I have encountered, whose eagerness to please made me feel uncomfortable, their hosting style was so effortless, unobtrusively pouring wine, serving food and keeping the conversation going. Carafes of water were within arms reach of everyone -- so simple, so genius! Now having read Rosecrans' memoir, I can see how his time in Paris influenced him -- and not that any of the dinner parties in Paris I Love You, but You're Bringing Me Down went so smoothly, but that might just be it, that which makes his writing so compelling. Rosecrans has a clear eye for how things should go, so he is a great observer of when they do not.
Of course the memoir serves to show off his rare writing talents we previously saw in his debut novel You Lost Me There, the way his sentences surprise and delight and his amazing ability to convey character in a few quick lines. Take this paragraph introducing Bruno, Rosecrans' advertising partner:
"Bruno was a late-thirties Parisian, stocky and morose. Year-round, he was reddishly tan, with a rosy flush that became a glower the more he drank. Bruno was roughly good-looking. His lips were plump, and one ear was scarred from rugby. There was a good deal in Bruno -- his sad confidence, his ponderous horniness -- for women to get hooked on. Over time, we'd talk a lot about girls. Bruno liked a good time. He liked wine, photography, gourmet food, the sea, and the hours he spent on Sundays repairing antique furniture. For Bruno, cigarettes were life itself. Same for his Yamaha scooter."
Underpinning Rosecrans' writing is a kindness, humor and thoughtfulness that makes him so endearing as a memoirist, makes you root for him when his French lets him down in crucial awkward moments, but also when his French is satisfactory enough tell off a baffled telemarketer. This is probably why it is so fun to see him, with such natural humor and grace, in desperate moments of humiliation and confusion.
Please help me return the favor of a good host and welcome Rosecrans to Flyleaf Books on Tuesday, May 1st at 7pm.