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3.8 out of 5 stars52
3.8 out of 5 stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2007
The author of best-selling novels "Merde Actually" and "A year in the Merde", published a new novel "Merde Happens". The novel shifts from the traditional setting of Paris to selected locations of the US for a promotional campaign, including New York, historical Boston, beach culture Miami, swamps of the deep south, casino city Las Vegas and movie world Los Angeles. The cast includes funny Englishman Paul, French madamoiselle Alexa and poet Jake. The mission is to promote Royal Britainnic to the Yanks, by driving a mini coated in the distinctive colours of the British flag. Is the mission a looming discaster, bearing in mind of Paul ignorance and naive handling of a tea room shop in Paris? All will be revealed in the novel.

Stephen Clarke is an experienced stand up comedian which is clearly evident whilst reading the novel. Interesting and funny facts about typical American's culture is beatifully and clearly pointed out and narratted in a richly entertaining novel. For example the historical insults inflicted on the idea of an English tea room in Boston, the yanks loving of maple syrup pancake, Shakesphere presence and French influence in America.

I really enjoyed reading "Merde Happens" as it filled with endless humour and colorful range of characters that you would expect to find in the States or maybe it is stereotype views. The novel is well balanced. It consist of a fine blend of facts and humour. The novel is a real pleasure to read.

Out of all previous novels by the author, Merde Happens stands out the most. The plot to the story is well defined and clearly coherent, with sub headings for chapters. The characters are strongly represented in the novel. Overall, a great entertaining and light piece of reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2011
The first one in the series was truly hilarious, especially for those like me who actually knows something about life in Paris if you're not French. Evidently, Mr Clarke put everything into it, because the second one felt much more shallow in terms of an actual insight into various ways of the French. Also, there were signs of the story turning into a simple comedy of relationships rather than fish-out-of-water comedy, done so well in the first one. Still, it got its moments and, on the whole, was OK (if you exclude the ending, which was contrived and artificial beyond belief). Now, the third one... simply a dud. Lacks everything that made the first one so great, but most of all - totally lacks witty observations. It feels like it was written due to the contractual obligations, and the author actually does not have a lot to say about anything, USA in particular. This time there is no feeling of a personal experience behind the adventures of Paul West, so his American mishaps lack authenticity. The cheapest and most obvious cliches about the USA are exploited, and it feels like this book could have been written by someone who's never even been to the States.

Seems that Mr Clarke (or his publishers) decided to expand his reader base to include the American side (after all, no matter how great A Year In The Merde was, you really need to have to experience even a tiny bit of Paris to truly enjoy it, which is not the case for most of the Americans and thus seriously hits the sales figures overseas). Perhaps it wasn't so bad in itself, but it is painfully evident that he simply does not have as much material to work with in this case (be it his superficial knowledge of the American life or a lack of interest to it), so he relies on almost Hollywood-sized stereotypes to produce gags.

Unlike the second one, this has no redeeming qualities. It also commits the crime of turning one of the key characters of the story, previously established as a person of intelligence and integrity, into an unsupportive nagger and a cheat. Way to go, Stephen! All in all, total sellout. Avoid if you liked previous installments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2009
The third in the sequence of adventures of Paul West - English expatriate sent to France on business and his misadventures and comic anecdotes. The first, and to a lesser extent the second, in the series I cannot recommend enough. These are very funny, satirical accounts, akin with Bryson et al, but even more tongue in cheek. Even better if you have spent time in French or are familiar with the French language.

This tirrd installment sees Paul West travel to the US on business with his socialist french girlfriend in tow: hilarity ensues - just not as much as in the last two episodes. Clarke's tone is addictive and his works read very easily. Recommended page turning holiday lit, but not for the new comer. Start with A Year In The Merde.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2009
It's a rare author who, after a first best-selling book, is able to continue producing follow-ups of equal quality. Stephen Clarke has managed to write yet another gem, exquisitely well-written, exquisitely funny and highly entertaining. And what a delight it is to have someone who actually produces intelligent humour.
Another thing I admire about Clarke's writing is that he manages to make his fiction sound so true-to-life you find it hard to believe it is actually fiction.
What I like too about Merde Happens (as well as Clarke's other books in the Merde series) is that his well-observed descriptions of various nationalities' little idiosyncrasies never sound patronising . I'd go as far as saying he's a modern-day Molière!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
So, Paul West is having some more adventures. This time he is not based in France (or Paris to be precise) but travelling across America "selling" British Tourism to the Americans whilst being harassed by the French who are trying to do the same and also trying to keep his on-off relationship with his hard-going girlfriend Alexa from completely stalling.

At the same time he has to do the journey in a temperamental mini painted with the Union Flag (not Union Jack!) and keep his Franco-American "friend" Jake and HIS new "girlfriend" from completely ruining the trip.

Yes there are lots of strange happenings and some funny moments but it all seemed a bit lack-lustre in comparison to his Paris and French adventures. His "rise to stardom" through his kilt exploits just seemed a bit far-fetched and juvenile to base the book around.

So, for me it wasn't a big hit. That said it was readable and mildly amusing in places so I give it 3 stars. I look forward to his French based novels with a little more hope.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2007
My entire family has been following the adventures of Paul West. As much as we enjoyed the others, this is the best one yet. Very funny with lots of interesting information about the Americans added to the usual great look at the French.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2007
I really think that Clarke takes it to the next level here. There's the same wit and insight as ever, but there's a whole new -- even richer -- field of discovery: the Americas. Paul West (and his adventures) is funnier than ever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2009
No poshy litterature but simple, funny reading for the summer holidays. I really enjoyed the light tone and I agree on far most of the typical french habits and remarks that are woven through the book. A scream. I bought 4 other books of the same author to fill my summer and will hand them on to friends.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2007
Loved it. I've read his others, and this one didn't disappoint. Paul West is a hoot. He bumbles around America getting into scrapes right out of classic comedy films. Not that there's any copying going on. I don't remember a film with the hero being forced to listen to Shakespeare being read in a Louisiana accent and thenhaving to do the same while dressed as Shrek. Clarke doesn't claim to understand the Americans like he does the French, which is fine by me. He goes on a road trip meeting new situations head-on and writing about them in his usual self-mocking style. I'm going to read it again more slowly this time. I flashed through it on a plane and I didn't want it to end.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2007
the third volume of Paul West's adventures is as funny as the first two volumes -- and perhaps funnier!
Paul has left Paris... but he hasn't lost his keen eye for the absurd on the way to the US. Terrific and funny.
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Customers who viewed this item also viewed
A Year In The Merde
A Year In The Merde by Stephen Clarke (Paperback - 1 April 2005)

Merde Actually
Merde Actually by Stephen Clarke (Mass Market Paperback - 3 April 2006)

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Talk To The Snail by Stephen Clarke (Paperback - 2 July 2007)

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