Down and out in Paris

2008-09-10 00:00

WHEN Sarah Lotz heard that Pompidou Posse, which she wrote as part of her MA in creative writing at the University of Cape Town, was to be published, she gave a copy of the manuscript to her parents and told them they had better read it. Then she sat her 17-year-old daughter Savannah down and had a long chat. Although Lotz says the book is not a memoir, she does admit that the “experiences” of the main characters, British teenagers Vicki and Sage, are based on what she and her friend Parsley got up to when they ran away to France after getting into a bit of trouble with the law in the UK.

In the novel, it’s the late eighties and Vicki and Sage are on the run in Paris after burning down a shed at their art school back home. Penniless and out of cigarettes, they squat in the tiny apartment of a student who spends more time smoking hash than he does studying, until they outstay their welcome. After a brief spell of Vicki working as a child minder for no pay, but for free accommodation, they land up back on the streets again.

This time, resigned to being clochards (tramps), they find a soup kitchen and learn how to beg and to sleep rough. They also have to learn to navigate the perils of hallucinogens, sexual predators, dodgy French plumbing and copious amounts of cheap red wine. The Blues, the French police unit that rounds up hoboes, are a constant threat, but it is a psychotic one-legged Welshman, also living on the streets, who poses the biggest danger to the girls.

A wonderful parade of weird people threads its way through Pompidou Posse, which provides a harrowing yet fascinating and darkly humorous look at the underbelly of the world’s most romantic city. I’m glad that Lotz survived to tell the tale and I look forward to her next book.

Diana Procter

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.