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Stephen Clarke Books In Order

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Publication Order of Paul West Books

A Year in the Merde (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Merde Happens (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Merde Actually / In the Merde for Love (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dial M For Merde (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Merde Factor (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Merde in Europe (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Spy Who Inspired Me (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Paris Revealed: The Secret Life of a City (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Brief History of the Future (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
1000 Years of Annoying the French (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dirty Bertie: An English King Made in France (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
How the French Won Waterloo: Or Think They Did (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Elizabeth II, Queen of Laughs (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
The French Revolution and What Went Wrong (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Stephen Clarke
Before writing “A Year in the Merde”, Stephen Clarke had never written anything longer than a report on British coffee drinking habits. Inspired partly by the culture shock upon arriving in Paris in September of 2002, and partly by the enviable sales figures of Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence”, Stephen began keeping this diary of his experiences.

Peter turned this journal into a novel once Anglo-French relations were at their absolute worst during the Iraq War in spring of 2003. Stephen still lives in Paris with his French girlfriend and her lingerie collection.

He grew up in Bournemouth, where he played bass guitar in some of the worst rock bands in musical history before he left town to study German and French at Oxford.

“A Year in the Merde” is the first novel in the “Paul West” series and was released in 2004. In this novel, Stephen Clarke describes the French as they truly are. They are not cheese eating surrender monkeys, however they do eat quite a lot of cheese, some of which smells like pigs’ droppings. In general, they don’t wash their armpits with garlic soap. They’re still in shock at being dumb enough to sell off Louisiana and thereby losing the opportunity to make French the global language. Going on strike is really the second national participation sport after petanque. And they do truly use suppositories.

Paul West, this young Englishman, shows up to set up some “English” tea rooms in Paris and gives a laugh out loud account of the perils and pleasures of being a Brit in France. Less chocolatey than “Chocolat”, less quaint than “A Year in Provence”, this book is going to illustrate how to get the best of the grumpiest Parisian waiter, how to make perfect vinaigrette each and every time, how to survive French meetings, and how not to buy a house in the French countryside.

According to Stephen, each of the names have been changed to avoid possible legal action, having his legs broken by somebody in an Yves Saint Laurent suit (or possibly, a Christian Dior skirt), and full embarrassment.

Published privately by Stephen in English in Paris, this book became an instant local bestseller. Instant word-of-mouth spread like wildfire to England where booksellers started clamoring for the book.

“Merde Actually” is the second novel in the “Paul West” series and was released in 2005. Englishman Paul West, just one year after showing up in France, still struggles with some fundamental questions. Why do French job applicants put sexually transmitted diseases on their CVs? What’s the best way to scare a gendarme? Why aren’t there any public health warnings on French nudist beaches? And how does one cope with a plague of courgettes?

Paul also mutates (just temporarily) into a Parisian waiter, sampling the pleasures of a typical French hotel room afternoons, and, during one return visit to the UK, sees the full horror of a British office party through Parisian eyes.

At the same time, he continues looking for the perfect French mademoiselle. However is Paul going to find l’amour eternel, or is it just going to end in merde?

“A Brief History of the Future” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2011. What if teleportation were actually possible? Richie Fisher, an Englishman, is about to find out.

Richie and Clara, his wife, have won this weekend in New York in this newspaper competition. As she’s off blowing their spending money, Richie just wanders around aimlessly, chewing on this veggie burger, winding up in a gift shop where he finds himself standing right in front of an instant transporter machine. It doesn’t look anything like the open plan teleporter on Captain Kirk’s Starship Enterprise; actually it appears more like a glorified microwave oven.

Richie sets his burger down inside, hits the return key on the connected computer, and the burger vanishes. However if he is able to teleport a half-eaten veggie burger, what else could you do with the machine? For criminals, the possibilities are absolutely endless. Who would you be able to catch if you beamed drugs into nostrils a hundred miles away? And how much would illegal immigrants pay in order to be teleported into the rich host country of their choosing? Richie buys this teleporter and takes it on back to England where the chaos ensues.

“Death Goes Viral” is the second stand alone novel and was released in 2019. A medical crime comedy that begins with a body, before an epidemic of unexplained deaths breaks out. And it is all told by the least reliable narrator imaginable, the fatally naive Bernie Bridges, who dodges between a glamorous government minister, a Napoleon complexed financial director, a depressed female police inspector, and a lethal French model. While telling us how he’s gonna privatize the Health Service, as he avoids the accusations and corpses that fly all around him.

Coma, which is the company Bernie helped create, start as a medical students’ online community, however it’s since evolved into this agency which puts doctors (even those that’ve been struck off) in touch with employers, and patients and hospitals in touch with more affordable medical practitioners. Dubiously sourced medicines, and even vital organs, are available via Coma as well.

The novel opens right when Coma is set to be bought out by this pharmaceuticals multinational called Nostrum. All of the founders of Coma, including Bernie, are soon to be very rich.

Bernie rushes off to share his astonishment and joy with Beano, his closest friend and colleague. Sadly, however, he finds Beano lying dead, having been strangled apparently after a struggle. It quickly becomes a race against the clock, against sudden death, corruption, and incidentally against affordable universal health care.

This is a knockout comedy, however it’s also a serious book about the flawed notion that the internet created true democracy, and depicts a government that uses false promises and fake news in order to manipulate public opinion. And one massive corporation attempting to get a stranglehold on the health of the planet. This novel is about attempting to distinguish, in a world where everybody communicates to everybody else all of the time, between your friends and your “friends”.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Stephen Clarke

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