Ads, Novels, & Paradise

Deep in the artists’ quarter, down an old brick street, he found the auberge. The silver, three-pointed star of his Mercedes floated to a stop with stately grace on the ancient tile terrace. Entering the cool dimness of the old stone walls, he found a primitive antique chair near the smoked timber of the fireplace. The apple-green goblets, the flowered pottery, put him in the mood for rich, cream-and-butter cooking. Entranced by the aromas he sat waiting. His thoughts drifted back to the enchanted voyage: the painting of color and lights, the colossus ship bellowing its deep basso blast, the long glide through a confetti rainbow to the sleepy southern waters

If, at this point, the traveler noticed a corpse in the corner, you would be reassured. The auberge passage was only standard atmosphere for a thriller. But imagine a novel continuing with the cream-and-butter fare. The luscious language is not original, of course. The paragraph is a blend of excerpts from the travel ads in one recent magazine.

I love them, and would never dream of traveling to discover what these mystical auberges are really like.

The same magazine reflects quite a different view of life in its reviews of books and plays. I note that one new novel finds a savior figure in a pornographer. He hears in the cynical obscenities of his customers the cry of man seeking a lost paradise.

It might be worth a try to get the ad-men to write novels and the novelists to write ads. I wouldn’t suggest having steamship companies sponsor French novels, however.

The slick Utopia of eternal youth and beauty found only in Ad-landis seems to offer the paradise that the messy pornographers of modern fiction have lost. The contrast could not be more dramatic. ...

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