More than thirty years after Ian Nairn died the early death of an alcoholic, the work of this singular decoder of city souls has attained minor cult status. While Britain’s Changing Towns and Nairn’s London have been reissued in various editions over recent years, Nairn’s guide to Paris has been out of print since it first appeared in 1968. Its republication is long overdue and this new version, produced by Notting Hill Editions, is a handsome and highly portable object.
Nairn’s approach is idiosyncratic and intensely personal. He admits that about one-third of this book is ‘discovery, in the sense that I came across the sites by accident or by following a topographical hunch’, which in practice means that his musings on random oddities are as long as