Walking Paris Streets with Eugène Atget by Greg Bogaerts

Today I have a small collection of short vignettes – all using a photograph by photographer Eugène Atget as the nexus of the idea.

For those unfamiliar with Atget, he spent 30 years as a documentary photographer capturing images of “Old Paris”, providing visual references of the forgotten and the often nameless street vendors, prostitutes, rag pickers and small tradesmen who frequented the side streets and back alleyways in the center of the city.   From 1897 to 1927 he photographed people, architecture and landscapes along the Seine: his photographs show parts of the city that are now no longer after the war and various revitalization projects.  A full biography and several additional images can be found at Atget Photography, while images can be seen at the Getty Museum, MoMa and the National Gallery to name a few.

In this collection, Greg Bogaerts has taken sixteen photos of characters in the photos, and used them as inspiration to create these stories.   Each story varies in length, with imagined conversations, providing background  and personality to the figures within the photos.

Beautifully imagined and written, each of these vignettes brings the image into a context in unique ways, using conversation, memory and physical appearance to bring the figures to life.  My favorite of the stories was Pierre, the Market Porter: both his image and the story breathe life into Pierre: his fears, imaginings and worries are there for all to see.  Choosing a favorite was a difficult task, each story brings a sense of the city and the time while delving into the photos.  For anyone who has ever stared at old photographic images and wondered just who was that person, or what were they thinking: this is a wonderful collection with answers and options to amuse and enjoy.

Perhaps my favorite photo is this one:



Children Playing, Luxembourg Gardens, 1898
~ Eugène Atget


Walking Paris Streets with Eugène Atget by Greg Bogaerts

Title: Walking Paris Streets with Eugène Atget
Author: Greg Bogaerts
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Shanti Arts LLC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 194
Rated: four-stars
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Walking Paris Streets With Eugène Atget: Inspired Stories About the Ragpicker, Lampshade Vendor, and Other Characters and Places of Old France is a collection of sixteen stories inspired by photographs of early twentieth-century photographer Eugène Atget, often regarded as the first "street photographer.

" These masterfully-written stories bring the characters in Atget's photographs to life as they confront and suffer through the social and political changes that led to modern France.

Some characters are endearing, some are despicable; a few characters rouse a good chuckle and others prompt feelings of grief and sadness. All of the characters and their stories are unforgettable, all securely tethered to the places, history, and mythos of Old France.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


About Greg Bogaerts

Greg Bogaerts was born in Newcastle, Australia and has lived there for more than fifty years. In addition to being a writer, he has been a schoolteacher, a solicitor, a laborer with BHP (an Australian-based multinational mining company), and a taxi driver. His stories, many of them generated from his working life experiences and centered upon Newcastle and Novocastrians, have been published in journals, newspapers, and anthologies in Australia and the United States. He has had one novel published; Black Diamonds and Dust (The Vulgar Press, 2005) tells the tragic and important story of coal-mining in Newcastle in the 1880s and 1890s.

Bogaerts attended the University of Newcastle where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Diploma of Education, and a Master of Educational Studies degree. He obtained a Bachelor of Legal Studies degree from Macquarie University. He was the first and only member of his family to go to university, something that began the alienation from his immediate family.

Bogaerts’ writing took a new turn when he began a series of short stories based on the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh and the Australian painters William Dobell and Russell Drysdale. He developed the Van Gogh stories into five novellas and eventually a novel, Montmartre, using Van Gogh’s paintings of the top of the butte as the main source of inspiration for the book. The stories based on Eugène Atget’s photographs of Paris represent the fulfilment of a new type of writing for Bogaerts. He is at present working on a series of short stories based on the paintings of American artist Leslie Anderson and a novel, The Chosen, based on his experiences living in Cooranbong, Australia.

Greg Bogaerts is married to Jill and he has a cat named Whisper.

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