Henry Miller, Quiet Days in Clichy (1940/56)
As I write, night is falling and people are going to dinner. It's been a gray day, such as one often sees in Paris. Walking around the block to air my thoughts, I couldn't help but think of the tremendous contrast between the two cities (New York and Paris). It is the same hour, the same sort of day, and yet even the word gray, which brought about the association, has little in common with that gris which, to the ears of a Frenchman, is capable of evoking a world of thought and feeling. Long ago, walking the streets of Paris, studying the watercolors on exhibit in the shop windows, I was aware of the singular absence of what is known as Payne's gray. I mention it because Paris, as everyone knows, is pre-eminently a gray city. I mention it because, in the realm of watercolor, American painters use this made-to-order gray excessively and obsessively. In France the range of grays is seemingly infinite; here the very effect of gray is lost.From Henry Miller, Quiet Days in Clichy (New York City, June 1940; rewritten in Big Sur, May 1956). Is there anything better than catching up with a good book from the Paris Reading Project in the last week of the year?