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Take Me to Paris, Johnny

Take Me to Paris, Johnny

Text Classics

John Foster

Introduction by Peter Craven
Afterword by John Rickard

‘I can’t remember exactly when I said that I loved him, but it could have been there in the warehouse, on the far side of the Brooklyn Bridge.‘

Take Me to Paris, Johnny is John Foster’s moving yet unsentimental account of the life of his partner, Juan Céspedes. It traces Juan’s youth in Cuba and his move to New York, where he struggles to make it as a dancer. There, in 1981—in ‘a chance encounter, much like any other’—he meets John, an Australian historian.

What begins as just a fling becomes a dazzling six-year affair. The two travel between New York, Berlin and Melbourne, struggling with bureaucracy in their quest to gain Juan residency in Australia, then with the disease taking the lives of gay men around the globe. To the end, Juan—‘an exotic bird, the only one of his kind’ in Melbourne—is captivating, witty, headstrong.

First published in 1993, not long before John Foster’s death, Take Me to Paris, Johnny is brilliant and unflinching, at once controlled and impassioned: a love story told with humour and unerring skill. This edition includes an introduction by Peter Craven and an expanded biographical portrait of the author by John Rickard.

Read Peter Craven’s introduction to Take Me to Paris, Johnny on our blog.

About the Author

John Foster was born in Melbourne in 1944. He studied at the University of Melbourne, then in Germany and the United Kingdom. In 1971 he returned to the University of Melbourne, where for many years he lectured in the Department of History. He edited the collections Community of Fate: Memoirs of German Jews in Melbourne (1986) and Victorian...

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Text publication date:
2 May 2016
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Praise for John Foster
andTake Me to Paris, Johnny

‘[A] literary masterpiece…Unparalleled in Australian letters…Makes most fiction, here or elsewhere, look paltry by comparison.’

‘A superbly crafted memoir…[A] subtle balance of formality and intimacy, of rationality and passion.’

‘Brilliantly accomplished use of language…Few other books documenting this illness rumble and resonate with such sustained power.’

‘[Take Me to Paris, Johnny] reminds us of the complexity of relationships…of the simultaneous strength and fragility of love.’

‘A remarkable, beautifully written memoir that captures and preserves the jittery zeitgeist among active gay men moving around the globe in the early ’80s.’

‘Finely written…Foster deftly recounted his “cross-colour, cross-class” relationship, and brought his lover back to life on the page.’

Other editions ofTake Me to Paris, Johnny