Author discusses new novel at Sewickley bookstore
Author James Goldsborough uses personal experiences and fictional characters to tell a historically rooted story in his new novel, “The Paris Herald.”
Starting out as a young reporter at the first American newspaper in Paris, Goldsborough learned the culture, language and history, all of which provided material the book about Americans in Paris.
Goldsborough, who has ties to the Sewickley area, visited the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley on July 17 for a discussion and signing of his new novel, based in Paris in the 1960s.
“The Paris Herald,” published by Prospecta Press, tells a story about the newspaper founded in 1887 that later became the International Herald-Tribune in 1920s until about two years ago, when it was renamed The International New York Times.
“The newspaper story is a good story about interesting people and a newspaper that, in a sense, is America's gift to France or to Paris like the Statue of Liberty is France's gift to America,” said Goldsborough, whose parents used to live in Edgeworth and who spent summers there with his grandmother.
“Every Frenchman, every European has known what The Paris Herald, the Herald-Tribune was.”
Goldsborough, who now lives in San Diego, spent 13 years writing for the newspaper, where he started in 1965 writing a column about all of the jazz clubs in Paris.
One of the main characters, Rupert Archer, comes to Paris as a young reporter and draws from some of Goldsborough's personal experiences abroad.
“I get into the personalities of the people who are at the Herald-Tribune, and the point of it is ‘Why are they there? Why do Americans come to a foreign country, or a foreign city?'”
Plenty of American artists, from writer James Joyce to dancer Josephine Baker, have a legacy in Paris, and Goldsborough deals with the exiles who came after World War II.
There were great American musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Bud Powell, Memphis Slim and Kenny Clark, who came to escape racism, he said.
“I try to capture all of the different motives that bring people to Paris and why they say it's different living in a foreign country,” Goldsborough said.
Goldsborough said he could have written about just the institutional history of the newspaper but chose to write a novel because that gives much more latitude.
He weaves many characters into the story, including French President Charles de Gaulle, New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and Washington Post owner Katharine Graham.
In 1977, Goldsborough became the Paris bureau chief for Newsweek magazine.
Part of his job, he said, was taking Graham to dinner whenever she came to Paris.
“I came to know her very well,” he said.
Chris Travis of Sewickley told Goldsborough that she used to live in Geneva and is eager to read his new book.
“It's such a vibrant city,” Travis said. “I am looking forward to reading it.”
Goldsborough also wrote the 2008 book “Misfortunes of Wealth: A Family Memoir,” a retelling of the story of his family which includes the Shields, Crittendens, Olivers, Nevilles and Craigs — military, political and industrial leaders of their time.
Larissa Dudkiewicz is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.