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Book review: ‘The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat’ by Sergi Pàmies

Generally, people either love or loathe short stories.  For those of us who indulge in revealing little chapters, ‘The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat’ is an absorbing glance into the author’s anxious psyche.  Bonus: it’s short enough for bedtime reading!


Book review: 'The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat' by Sergi Pàmies. https://www.myfrenchlife.org

A baker’s dozen of intertwined stories that brilliantly evoke the ups and downs of relationships between strangers, spouses, parents, and children.

Amazon review

Muses on both the serious and the trivial

At least partly autobiographical, Sergi Pamies’ state-of-mind (impending doom) does not make for depressing reading; rather he pokes a bit of fun at himself, over-analyzing every thought he’s ever had. 

  • From the precariousness of chatting up someone at a cocktail party to
  • learning the truth about Santa Claus, this storyteller muses on both the serious and the trivial.  
  • Teenage angst,
  • divorce,
  • 9/11, and
  • the intrigue of ad posters in the Metro, all make for an adventure in reading. 

The author reflects on feelings of failure, often shot through with dark humor and seemingly commonplace odds and ends of everyday life though at its heart, the skillful writer manages to pen an encouraging hope for a good life. And who but Sergi Pamies could remind us of the late great Jimmy Durante’s “Make Someone Happy”.  Love is the answer.

In this phantasmagoria of failure and loss, Pàmies confronts us—pulling us in with his use of the second person—with the omnipresence of well-intentioned lies without which it might be impossible to ever make anyone else happy.

Amazon review

An inability to be cool…

The title, of course, refers to an inability to be cool, polished enough to pull off wearing a trench coat à la Humphrey Bogart’s Rick in ‘Casablanca’.  British Burberry cool or Audrey Hepburn Givenchy cool – that practiced ‘look’ that wins hearts with one look

I understand

If I ever learn to tie a scarf correctly, perhaps I’ll be as cultivated as Pamies’ fantasy of orchestrating ‘the look’ of his dreams.   

His comparison of British trench coats (“correct and monarchical”) to French trench coats (“bohemian and anarchic”) made this reader laugh out loud

He nailed it

Always elegant, a well-worn trench coat is an ultimate symbol of who we want to be. 

This is a book for both people-watchers and under-confident writers. 

Ultimately, as we dream of our own trench-coat ensemble, we are reminded that BETTER DAYS ARE AHEAD.


Have you read this book or any others by this author? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.


Book review: 'The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat' by Sergi Pàmies. https://www.myfrenchlife.org

‘The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat’ by Sergi Pàmies and translated by Adrian Nathan West.
Published by Other Press, New York.

You can buy this book here.

Postscript: “I was happy to have read this book with its skillful writing, but personally I had hoped for more ‘French’ references.” — Michelle Moggio – author and francophile



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