These short excursions into the many Frances Philip Kobylarz knows and loves are complete in themselves and add up to one traveler’s intelligent, visceral, immediate appreciation of French culture. A tonic getaway for the weary and jaded, this is both a cheap vacation, and a rich one. I loved it. All Roads Lead from Massilia is engrossing and palpable.
~ Stephen D. Gutierrez, author of The Mexican Man in His Backyard, Stories & Essays
This is not a collection.
This is an arsenal.
An arsenal of rhetorical daggers.
Daggers stabbing straight at the heart – of truth itself.
~ Eric Michael Moberg, author of Big Noise at the Funky Butt Jass Club and Most Dangerous Man
All Roads Lead from Massilia takes readers on a journey through geographical, cultural, and emotional landscapes in a hologram of words that reveal the ghosts of France while rooted to American comparisons Kobylarz so desperately tries to unroot. Kobylarz creates Baudrillard’s America in reverse with his vignettes of wandering the streets and sewers of Paris, or his rural span of the French countryside and the people who inhabit them on the surface and down below.
~ Kerry Hillis Goff, author of When the Haunted are Favored
Kobylarz’s reflections on terraces, baked delicacies, Cézanne, the essence of walls, the erotic life, poverty and Super Gluing one’s shoes, French doors, the hazards of solitude, café contemplation, hiking, the birth echo of caves with “crystals like immediate stars,” leave the reader with the overall absorbed sensuality and meteorology of the landscape remaining, against most odds, among the lasting values of a sane, enthusiastic, contemplative life-affirming sensibility.
~ Doren Robbins, author of Twin Extra, Amnesty Muse and Parking Lot Mood Swing
The body heat within the bus fogs the windows, obscuring views of places that don’t want to be seen anyway. from Tangential
They are also gathering places for those seeking refuge within refuge: people peuple them– reading books, lovers sit on each other’s lap inspecting their reflection in each other’s eyes, the homeless sleep on their benches undisturbed, pigeons decorate them as if they are about to break into a game of pétanque. from Enter, the Labyrinth
Even though you can still go to the cobbled streets of Monmartre and find an enclosed square of artists painting landscapes and portraits, artists who will take your seventy dollars (conveniently located on the square is a money changing office) and after they share some words with you in English, Italian, or German, will head into the local bar to make good on a tab, or begin another. from Departure
On closer inspection, the denizens look remarkably alike. Ranging from brown to black to platinum dyed blonde hair, from crew cuts to dreadlocks to $100 haircuts, the people of Marseille share something in common: they are incredibly fashionable and good looking. from Port
Cats commit suicide when the mistral arrives. Beach-goers mourn the loss of their new, expensive kites. It clears the skies and brightens them, and tempts the unknowing to leave the safety of their homes. from Mistral
They’ll give you a cheeky, stained-teeth smile, shake your hand and tell you to come back when you have enough pocket money you don’t care about. from Les Ponts de Toulouse
Around her, and her city, there are hills painted Turkish, that is blue and light green, always black always white. Outlines of jagged obelisk tipped topography, a calcite horizon layered in brush stroke green, mint needles of dry pine. from Aside: Coastal Memories
Then the same men out of their skull yellow red black caps in the lousy bars filled with but older, tiring men, smoke and smell of old dreams predictably quixotic, in half reality, it all going out with its 2 a.m. lights, dingy fluorescent. from Crusades, Spoils of Victory
In the crowded months of the summer, hikers and fishermen pass by on the balconies of trails hundreds of feet above the sea, and nude bathers act as sentinels guarding nothing on outcrops within the sea, for the most part, the only visible inhabitants are gulls who cry like babies to let you know they are there. from Landscape, with White Deserts
In the cathedral near the coast and in the extreme southern part of the city (closer to Italy), there is an aquarium of blessed fish, thus assuring a bountiful catch for the fishermen of the quarter from. Les Fantômes
Minutes more to the south, in what amounts to a dead end to sea, hillside, cliff, and pine forest nature (with looming monuments for emphasis), only the tinier inhabitation of Callelongue rivals its outcrop and watery edge-of-nothingness from Les Goudes
Anyway, anyhow the memories are so vivid as to lead the mind and spirit back to its days which are now with eternity making it so in an invisible chemistry, pure alchemical chemistry of sun (first), sea, sea air, salt, clarity (becoming rarer, but yet), and the idea if not the geophysical Morse alphabetics of islands. from Of Views and Smoke
The sky is so clear that when taken in full view, one etched and tree enshrouded hilltop to the same and yet marginally different combination of the next, it doesn’t make anything but perfect sense. from Vendanges
A composition of tree-d hillsides village stone and fenced by local rocks. All painstakingly arranged to pay homage to the schools of painting that invented these topographies. from Two Sides of the Same Coin
Pleasure outweighs work in this glorious, burnt white rock and Aleppo-pined cityscape, sun bleeding orange roofs spilling in to the nothingness, mirror of the sea. from La Ville
Europe’s calm, openness of nighttime which is definitely not rushing home to the kids of America, to crack deals gone smooth, things to do rather than sequester oneself in family and home. from Marseille Noir
The rain bridge leading only to its other sides. An accidental arch. from Mazargues
What makes this sacred mountain of Western Civilization a mountain and not but a cliff of land that couldn’t reach far enough to overlook the sea, is all a matter of perspective. from A Walk without Cézanne
The evening is a sacred time more for taking strolls along the beach or settling into giant tables of many-course meals and unplugged and respiring wine bottles. from Un-easy Access
Endless cumulus arranged orderly by the heat of the day, blue sky that suggests North Africa and Spain, surreptitious views into other apartments, houses, villas, bars with boules courts, trees and incalculable Mediterranean greenery, schools, neighborhoods where beautiful people live lives that will never need qualification. from View from a Solitary Location
L’Estaque looks out onto the sea, pieds dans l’eau, feet in the water as the French say, and it is remarkable in that it is one of the few, if not only, places one can purchase a chi chi. from Views from L’Estaque
Dredging oneself up from the sea after hours of shell collecting, marine life observation, and the hopeful search for sea caverns, the beach of the archipelago offers an audience of sun-baked, glistening bodies wholly uninterested in your arrival. from Archipelago Inconnu
Armoires riddled with insect tunnels and stocked with decades of old clothes that, unfolded and held up to the torso, seem to have regenerated into style. from Lost and Found
Ladies that walk knowing that they’re being watched, or wanting to be, not even caring the age or attractiveness of the onlooker. from Rooms Never without Views
Rain has begun again, wiping out the heat. Bubbles slide across the red tiled terrace. The sound of drops falling are in English. from Entries in a Known Hand: On Being a Foreigner
In the bar there’s always more smoke than inspiration. from Chemin de la Femme Morte
She’ll tell them and shake off the memories they engender with a wave of her hand in the air like a butterfly taking its initial flight and a gorgeous smile. from Café Life
Days that go by so smoothly, so ingrained in the rituals of meal preparation and wine drinking; clouds practicing tai chi as they pass from sea through and over the city and the crinkled border of mountains behind it all. from Keepsakes
After falling up it, or walking on the sides of the crushed rock staircase for better footing, dwarf pines on the hillsides huddle into view, the bones of larger trees have fallen and decorate the landscape in swathes of riddled steel beams eroding, and the sea and her islands loom behind. from A Walk in the Calanques
She wonders when she’ll ever have guests again, being lonely for the loneliness of company, escaping from her visitors when they come by practicing the piano or reading books very slowly in her bedroom, looking out her window at the one small mountain she can see that hides from her everything her life has ever been. from The Sitting