Exotic Places; The Streets of Paris, by Richard Cobb, photographs by Nicholas Breach. New York: Pantheon. $17.95 (hardbound), $10 (paperback).
Those who fear that Paris is being turned into a Quincy Market or a Ghirardelli Square by a government gone boutique-happy will find support in this book. Cobb and Breach dashed around the 10th, 17th, 18th, and 20th arrondissements one October, taking photographs in the autumn light of peeling shutters, vacant shops, deserted courtyards, old people playing cards in the park. The result is almost a sociologist's plea for the middle class to allow the working class to remain -- for preserving the tranquil back streets of Paris from the tourists, young working couples, antique shops, and pizzerias that are driving out the small artisans, the Algerians, the old men in berest who seem to be the soul of Paris.
The text is a bit cryptic at times; it seems almost as if Cobb were writing more for his pleasure than for ours. Yet visitors to Paris who want to capture the inner spirit of things on a three-week guided tour might try to follow in the footsteps of Cobb and Breach.