Quiet Days in Clichy

ISBN: 080213016X
ISBN 13: 9780802130167
By: Henry Miller

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About this book

This tender and nostalgic work dates from the same period as Tropic of Cancer (1934). It is a celebration of love, art, and the Bohemian life at a time when the world was simpler and slower, and Miller an obscure, penniless young writer in Paris. Whether discussing the early days of his long friendship with Alfred Perles or his escapades at the Club Melody brothel, in Quiet Days in Clichy Miller describes a period that would shape his entire life and oeuvre.

Reader's Thoughts


This novel was pretty much a different setting for a smaller version of Tropic of Cancer. It was quite short and a slightly easier read.


Quiet Days in Clichy is like a little taste of the most mediocre and vile portion of Tropic of Cancer. I kept waiting for a moment of bright clarity, an original event, ANYTHING -- and then it was over. There were of course a few good lines, a couple of pertinent observations, but it jumped directly into a rough-and-ready sexual encounter with a prostitute; it didn't build upon this ...it was just one hooker after the next, with none of the blazing philosophical rants that made Tropic of Cancer a thing of beauty. I'll keep reading Miller, but this was (I hope) a bump in the road.


Miller starts out in the world of porn, a world in which (99% of the time) a man is lust incarnate and a woman is never a woman but only a "bitch," a "cunt," a "whore," a "piece of ass," a "lady" (rarely and temporarily), and so on. The book mostly consists of men discussing women in these terms, and women obliging their sexual desires, with appropriate submission. One woman is never excited by watching a man piss, but is terribly excited by a man climbing on top of her and pissing inside her. By the end of the book, however, Miller reveals a level of self-consciousness that cannot belong to pornography, or to "erotica." Miller displays an understanding of his subjectivity, of male subjectivity and weakness, of sheer vulnerability, that undermines anything approaching the fantasy of pornography and the sensuality of erotica (not that the book is ever really erotic in my understanding of the term). Moreover, Miller makes it awfully clear that from his point of view being "nothing but a cunt," an object of carnal pleasure, is not something that demands contempt, but something that he desires, that he even aspires to. There is certainly sexism in this book-- a lost fifteen year old girl is used as a station of sexual relief for males with zero irony or moral doubt, for just one example-- but there is little, maybe no misogyny. So the book, as a whole, is not porn. If it is, it's pretty bad porn. Dudes might get a few cheap thrills early on, and certain sorts of gals might dig the sheer magnitude of male lust on display, but you can't exactly jerk off to this stuff. And as I said, it's not erotic in the way I'd define erotic. It's not sensual or really human enough to be erotic. Miller quietly undoes and undermines any potential, I think, for this book to be either of those two things. So Quiet Days in Clichy is literary, and not a ridiculous artifact of misogyny. But it's not really good literature. For one thing, the sex is described in pretty laughable prose. For another, the book is excessively, at times intolerably, bohemian in the worst sense. Its world is a world in which catching and spreading the clap is far better than simply living a quiet and comfortable life. To me, beatitude (in this context) is about more than pursuing the lifestyle depicted here. It's also about finding some kind of gutter enlightenment. I think that Miller writes very well of the emotional struggles of being human, of the pleasures of satisfying one's carnal appetites, of living outside convention. I think he's an interesting guy I'd like to have conversed with. The ultimate world of this novel is mostly immature and sad and pretty ugly. I honestly, totally unironically think that great literature ought to be wise in some way. There's little real wisdom here, only baby steps toward that end. But those steps are valuable and sometimes beautiful. There's around half a great book here. A few bonus points for authenticity and balls.


I first read Quiet Days in Clichy 20 years ago. Recently, I found a used copy on the street for a couple of bucks (an older edition featuring the essay World of Sex as a back up story) so I thought, what the hell, I will re-read it. The title is an obvious joke, Clichy being far removed from quiet. Miller is his usual filthy self, regaling of with tales of being out on the prowl with "Carl," merrily drinking in bars, sex with hookers, all the while being flat broke. Surely a great degree is exaggerated, or overly romanticized, but who cares. And as always, there exists a backdrop of highly literary discussions. I started reading Henry Miller when I was 15. Probably warped my brain & sexuality at that tender age. No matter though, I love Henry Miller.


How come someone didn't tell me about Henry Miller a long, long time ago? I'm 31, fer chrissakes. With my lifestyle, I could already be dead by now. You guys know I like to read stories about guys who get it on with a series of beautiful or at least easy women. They give me hope. And Henry Miller, apparently, is the master of the form. Like a more literary (but still enjoyable) Tucker Max. Quiet Days in Clichy probably isn't even one of his best books. Tropic of Cancer was recommended to me in a dark, nasty corner of the Internets where I found some of the other books I've read recently, but it was either prohibitively expensive or not available in the format I needed. They were pretty much giving Clichy away, on the other hand. I thought it was a really good deal, but it turns out it's only about an afternoon worth of reading. Maybe a few afternoons, if you work for a living.

Abu Hasan

أعتقد أن العنوان ينبغي أن يكون (أيام داعرة في كليشي) فهو يعكس مضمون الكتاب بدقة بعكس العنوان الخادع


ميللر ميللر ميللر الرذيلة حين تمشي على الأقلام و فوق الأوراق لا شيء هادئ في كليشي لا شيء بتاتا يمت للهدوء بصلة ليالي صاخبة حمراء و بكل ألوان النبيذ التي تعرفها فرنسا بين أحيائها السفلية و الخلفية ..هذا هو ميللر يجيد الحديث الجاد كما يجيد الكلام الملغم بالآثام..يتجرد من الحياء تجرده من الاستعارات ليوضح الأمور كما هي بدون تجميل ..المثير أن ميللر لا يدري أننا نتعامل مع كتبه نفس تعامله مع العاهرات نحبها في وقتها و نحتفظ بذكراها معنا لكننا نضعها في الرف و نتناول التالي...أيام هادئة في كليشي توقع الأخبث منها.


Henry's books are a pleasure to revisit. It is odd how one returns to Henry's books - hundreds of books later, their flaws are even more obvious, but so too is the tenderness, the rawness, the humor, the story - and above all, the genius. Never before and never again have we had an American writer quite like Henry. To be sure there have been plenty of imitators, plenty of ecstatic admirers, and an equal number of closeted admirers - but heirs? No. Geniuses? No. America seems to breed a lot of brilliance, but only the very rare genius - but I suppose that is true of every country. What will you find if you read this book rather than Tropic of Cancer or Sexus or another, greater Miller book? The etchings of a serial exaggerator, boaster, satyr, saint - sure, the book won’t glow on the shelf, but you’ll read it and smile, read it and muse, and you’ll be the better person for it. In my opinion, the second half, Mara-Marignon, is the better story.


Is there any more overrated author than Henry Miller, other than perhaps other writers in his inner literally (pun intended) incestuous circle? Or a more prototypical crustpunk/freegan patronizing pretentious self-absorbed dippy douchebag? Or a better example of an annoying shit who thinks just because he's in another country he's interesting?The difference between Miller and generic porn is the fact that Miller isn't profoundly stupid. He's smart enough to know that just having sex and self-consciousness in a novel makes it interesting and literary to New Yorker subscribers, just as he's not smart enough to know just because he's "honest" and writes "honestly" about sex doesn't mean he's a genius. A satire about pretentious assholes done by pretentious assholes is still pretentious and full of assholes.When he's not annoying me for being a smug snot-nosed shit, though, Miller is fun to read, and he does have some oh-so-French lines. He's essentially a writer of romance novels (fantasies) for writers, virginal librarians and others who yearn for the Good Old Days of Debauchery. But nothing takes me out of a sex scene more than the word "boobies."A lot of people seem to be under the impression that this and other Miller is written by an old man reminiscing about his young and carefree days. But by my estimation, if Miller was born in 1891, and these stories take place in the early 30's, he'd be a 40-year old banging 14-year old chicks, among other casually creepy and misogynistic things. So take it or leave it if that floats your boat, but stop picturing him in your head as a harmless naif or innocent freshman.


Oh Henry, you naughty naughty devil, you...

Lauren Smith

Talented and unabashedly debaucherous, Joey (a fictionalised Miller) and his roommate Carl mostly seem to spend their ‘quiet days in Clichy’ either writing or fucking. Every woman in these two stories exist entirely as sex objects for Joey and Carl, and almost all of them are ready and willing to spread their legs, for money or lust, and occasionally with utter indifference.Normally, this would lead me to rip the story to shreds for its sexism, but I was completely swayed by Miller’s brilliant writing. There isn’t much of a plot here and there are no admirable (or perhaps even likeable) characters, but I devoured every word. It makes me feel like the parents of Colette, the 15-year old runaway waif who gets taken in by Carl and Joey and becomes their “Cinderella, concubine and cook”. When Colette’s parents eventually find her they naturally want a word with Carl about his illicit relationship with their daughter. But upon finding out that he and Joey are writers who study the likes of Proust and Goethe, they are instantly placated and decide not to press any charges. As Carl interprets it, “The French have a great respect for writers, you know that. A writer is never an ordinary criminal”.In the same way, the artistry of Miller’s writing makes me forgive, and in fact, thoroughly enjoy the depravity of his content. Should I feel a bit guilty, or perhaps deceived about this? I don’t know, but oh, what a great read!Read more reviews on my blog Violin in a Void


I thought, while spending a year overseas, I would read books about people who were living far from home. I was reading "Shogun", but after a few weeks, I needed a break from James Clavell's straight-forward, no-frills prose. So, I thought I would give Henry Miller a try. (Going from 1600s Japan to 20th century Paris would be a fun shift, too.)I had started Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" years ago, but never got more than 50 pages into it because it was just so dense with philosophy, dream-like imagery, and Miller's devil-may-care personality. At the time, I just wasn't in the mood for it, but thought I'd give it another go, figuring it would be a good antidote to the plot-rich/poetry-weak book I had been reading. Unfortunately, "Tropic" wasn't available on Kindle, so I thought I'd go with this book, which some reviewers had said was an easier read than his more famous work. This was a true assessment. This was an easy read, and I finished the book in less than a week, but there's not much to it. Some nice writing from time to time, but hardly the dense poetic ruminations I had hoped to find. Instead, this book is really just some meandering memories of women (most of them prostitutes) by some expat American author. There are some vivid moments throughout, a nice essay on the color gray, and a fun dream sequence at the end of the 1st half, but it all amounts to a fairly forgettable read of booze, smut, a couple interesting characters, and no-regrets glibness.


إما أن تتقبل هنري ميللر كما هو فيروق لك و تجد نفسك من أنصاره الذين يهتفون بحماسة و دون حياء أو تبغضه إلى الأبد و تعاديه دونما هوادة و تصب اللعنات - كل اللعنات - على هذا الوغد . راقت لي بعض التعليقات في الموقع من بعض القراء الأجانب حيث كانت إحداهن منصفة إلى أبعد حد حين قالت أنه لا شك كاتبٌ رائع و إن بدا خنزيراً . هناك رأي آخر يتسائل لماذا لا يقلع الجميع عن قراءة هنري و هو الذي لا يتخلى عن البذاءات و سردها بكل الطرق البشعة و مع ذلك يلاقي نجاحاً مسعوراً - إن صح التعبير - و علل ذلك بصوته السردي البارع و العفوي جداً . العنوان مضلل بالمناسبة أو أن ميللر يقصد الهدوء الذي لا بد أن يعقب الصخب ! ليس ثمة الكثير من الأحداث و هذه عادة لم يقلع عنها الكاتب أبداً و عشاق الحبكات الروائية على موعد مع خيبة كبيرة إن ترقبوا شيئاً من هذا القبيل . و الكتاب فيه كاتبان يقدسان حياة اللهو و الشراب فاليوم خمر و غد ٌ كذلك و ما بعد الغد و على مدار الأسبوع الأول و الثاني و الثالث و من الواضح أن امرؤ القيس كان سيصبح صديقهما المفضل . لا شيء سوى أصناف النبيذ و العاهرات ! تقريباً لا شي آخر . هذا يدعو للتقزز غير أن للحقيقة زوايا أخرى من الممكن أن تصنع فارقاً فاللغة هنا تصلح كل ما أفسده الكاتب عن عمد . و لعلني أقتبس ما يوضح الفكرة بشكل أكبر . " إن كارل عبقري في التورط بالمشاكل . كانت المشكلة أو ربما الفضيلة أنه لا يستطيع أن يقول لا . إن معظم الناس يقولون على الفور لا ، بدافع غريزي أعمى أما هو فيقول نعم باستمرار . إنه يعيش حياته بدافع اللحظة و لا يتوقف عن مغازلة الخطر لا بدافع الشجاعة بل لأن ذلك يمنحه فرصة لشحذ ذكائه ! "


I always enjoy Henry Miller. Here's a passage that I liked: "There are hotels in the side streets leading off the boulevard whose ugliness is so sinister that you shudder at the thought of entering them, and yet it is inevitable that you will one day pass a night, perhaps a week or a month, in one of them. You may even become so attached to the place as to find one day that your whole life has been transformed and that what you once regarded as sordid, squalid, miserable, has now become charming, tender, beautiful."


this is a book about limbo. Not the kind you'd typically expect. It's a dusty saga through the white legs of limbo, as henry miller cuts into prostitute after prostitute during the rainy days of Clichy. It is like watching someone play horseshoes. There are only two things you can do on a rainy day, as the saying goes, and the whores never wasted time playing cards.I thought this book was alright. Miller does get to stretch his verbal abilities, but this isn't Black Spring. This book is not a revolution, but very much so a reflection. It is an old man looking tastily back on the flesh of lazy days and thinking why didn't i grasp the ground more and sing i won't leave. When i think about this period, when we lived together in Clichy, it seems like a stretch in Paradise. There was only one real problem, and that was food...There is an amazing scene where Miller donates all of his money to a weeping prostitute then comes home ravenous and begins chewing the bones and moldy bread out of the garbage,...All other ills were imaginary. I used to tell him so now and then, when he complained about being a slave. He used to say i was an incurable optimist, but it wasn't optimism, it was the deep realization that, even though the world was busy digging its grave, there was still time to enjoy life, to be merry, carefree, to work or not to work.He goes throuhg woman after woman after woman and what is accomplished? Nothing. It is like an old man with a metal detector on the beach, combing it scrupulously and finding glee over rusted copper shards. Like business, Miller contents himself with the meaningless absurdity of pleasure, which he finds in fountains, in slews, in Clichy::'And what would you do with yourself to pass the time away?' I once asked.'What would i do?' she repeated in astonishment. 'I would do nothing. I would just live.'What an idea! What a sane idea!It's true. He may be cruel to women, he may be overly sexually exploiting and objectifying, but that is his dirty business. It is his charming outside prison that--like mafia novels or espionage novels or horror novels--expunges an indulgence and does so with jelly on the chin. This is his limbo, being forced to eat at a buffet all day. He doesn't really characterize anyone. All of his women are whores, his men are cartoons. They spin up the streets as goddesses or pollute the canteen as moths:The rosy glow which suffused the place emanated from the cluster of whores who usually congregated near the entrance. As they gradually distributed themselves among the clientele, the place became not only warm and rosy but fragrant. They fluttered about in the dimming light like perfumed fireflies. Those who had not been fortunate enough to find a customer would saunter slowly out to the street, usually to return in a little while and resume their old places. Others swaggered in, looking fresh and ready for evening's work.It's by far not Miller's best work and shows his age and distance in how dreamy and sedate it is. I like Miller less when he talks about rosy cunts and more when he talks about time travel. It's a distinct possibility he wrote this book because he was horny and he needed to exorcise his demons.

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