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An NYRB Advent, Paris Vagabond

It is winter now, and with its coming, since I cannot do as the migrating birds do, and rely on thermal columns to carry me to a more temperate zone, I hibernate like an animal going to ground and falling into torpor, I winter like a boat laying over in a port sheltered from the ice, I shrink, I curl up in some corner of the city, I build walls, ramparts, around me, I wrap myself head to toe in woolens, I isolate the delicate clockwork of my brain, I huddle up, dig my hole, go into my shell, put myself on low, and move at a snail’s pace.
Once again I shall be spending four or five months inside Paris, that vast gathering-place of daily calamities and miracles, searching each day for enough, substantially enough, to eat and drink, and each night for a quiet and untroubled place to lay my head, while of course leading a full and joyous life.
And I laugh to myself, because in the eyes of a cop directing the traffic I am just another tramp back in town, ruddy-faced, stoop-shouldered, filthy lumberjacket, shoes gone to hell, rumbling belly, empty haversack, and a recent prison release order in my pocket.
But this is where I am going to write a book.
— Jean-Paul Clébert, Paris Vagabond, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith,

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