Did the Saint Germain Des Pres of legendary French provacateur/novelist/playwright/jazz musician/singer Boris Vian really exist? Or was it just another variation in his theme of reality bending into fiction? Those questions profilerate in his Manual Of Saint Germain des Pres, a dreamworld of habitues in post-war Paris swirling to jazz, battling their arguments in existentialist salons and stirring up new strains in art, theatre and literature. The cast of intellectually glamorous types include Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet, Alberto Giacometti, Juliette Greco, Raymond Queneau, Jacques Prévert, and Jean-Paul Sartre. As the Rizzoli catalog puts it so romantically,
"Manual of St-Germain-des-Prés" documents the first time legendary African-American jazz musicians rubbed shoulders with French writers, artists, musicians, and intellectuals who wanted to shake the conservative grip and dance. The interactions amongst a cast of characters who lived exuberantly active and diverse lives make for a captivating read, and vividly illustrate the irresistible, anything-is-possible spirit that made the Left Bank the place to be in the 1950s."
The dream life indeed.