The Vignettes & Postcards Series

Vignettes & Postcards is a series of destination-specific anthologies edited by Erin Byrne and published by Reputation Books, collections that go deep into the experience of travel to uncover secrets, traditions, and meanings of various cultures worldwide. Each volume presents stories by well-known and gifted writers, tales that trace journeys, both inner and outer, to entice and transport readers.

Vignette & Postcards From Morocco

As the chergui (desert wind) whips reality into fantasy and the perpetually full tea glass caresses its minty bouquet, from Casablanca to Tangier, from the crush of Marrakech to the ethereal solitude of the Sahara, from a rose festival in the countryside to a betrothal fair high in the Atlas Mountains, in alleyways and on rooftops, in the souks and on plains scattered with ruins, we invite readers to join us as we rotate in a dervish-dance with Morocco.

Thirty-three stories and poems - written by Suzanna Clarke (A House in Fez), Jeff Greenwald, Michael Chabon, Phil Cousineau, Paul Bowles and others-vibrate inside this book, tales of quests and mysteries, of traditions and memory and wisdom that seek the ancient and celebrate the exotic in Morocco. Photos by Omar Chennafi, Siddharth Gupta, sketches by Anna Elkins.

Vignettes & Postcards From Paris

This new edition of the highly acclaimed Vignettes & Postcards: Writings from the Evening Writing Workshop at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, Paris is an invitation to discover what Allen Ginsberg called "the bewildering beauty of Paris."

Don George, Billy Collins, Marcia DeSanctis, Kimberley Lovato, the SpokenWord poets of Paris, and others wander boulevards, meander through markets, venture across twilit bridges and tiptoe into grandes appartements. We sip Champagne, taste history, and savor la bonne vie. Next, Jean-Bernard Ponthus, Jane Weston, and the other Paris writers await in the upstairs library at Shakespeare and Company with the ghosts of Walt Whitman and Sylvia Plath, the Mirror of Love, and the timeless mystique of beloved original stories.

Photographs by William Curtis Rolf and sketches by Candace Rose Rardon and Colette Hannahan combine with the stories and poems to offer a nouvelle vision of Paris.

Travelers' Tales

Travelers' Tales
March 15, 2016

France is steeped in refined traditions, with its rich history, exquisite art, robust culture, and varied cuisine. Writer Erin Byrne was changed by traveling around this country with the ghosts of artists and historical figures who shared with her their guides to living.

WINGS: Gifts of Art, Life and Travel in France (Travelers Tales | March 15) is a collection of essays drawn from Byrne's travels across the country. From Cézanne's studio in Aix-en-Provence to a tiny village in the Jura Mountains, from a traditional bistro on the Left Bank of Paris to a plain high above the Normandy beaches, she travels through France collecting stories, characters, tastes and secrets that act as ingredients for change, then takes those experiences and digs deeper to uncover meaning.

Henri Cartier-Bresson issues a challenge, Sainte Geneviéve offers resilience, Salvador Dalí seduces, Picasso entertains, and a wrought iron sign portends the future. WINGS is about the gifts that we all glean from our travels. This book will inspire readers to unwrap their own images and impressions in a new way.

Includes more than 100 illustrations by Anna Elkins.

Events listed on Events page.

To order:




Critical Acclaim for Wings:

"Different times, different places, different muses, but toujours France. In Wings, while offering a feast of discoveries, tastes, feelings and surprises, Erin Byrne shares with us her fascination with a country that rewards those who love its idiosyncrasies as much as its delights. To join Erin Byrne on her travels is to see France through the eyes of an ever-curious and affectionate friend."
-Alan Riding, author of And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris


"I found myself re-reading this book with growing delight. As a writer, Erin Byrne has a graceful touch and a knack for telling captivating stories. As a traveler, she is sometimes obsessed, confused or a bit distraught. All the better for us. Byrne doesn't just see, she feels and that makes all the difference."
-Tim Cahill, author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh and Hold the Enlightenment


"Anyone who has ever fallen in love with a place will find a kindred soul in Erin Byrne, an irresistible bon vivant whose appetite for the art, culture, cuisine, history and traditions of France is second only to her devotion to the craft of storytelling. This is a must read for anyone traveling to France. Byrne's prose reads like a love story, flooding her reader's senses with France's triumphs and tragedies, and some of its more beloved characters, from Madame Simone Renaud to Henri Cartier-Bresson to George Whitman.
"Even if Byrne hadn't divulged that she was once a teacher, her ability to impact learning through her stories with so much joie de vivre gives her away. By the end of this book, you will have received a crash course in French history, art, and culture unlike anything else."
-Jayme Moye, 2014 NATJA Travel Journalist of the Year


"Reading Wings reminds me of the memorable moments I've had riffling through boxes of old postcards and the pages of antiquarian books in the beloved green boxes of the bouquinistes along the Seine in Paris. The serendipitous thrill that can be found discovering long-lost wonders in the bookstalls is similar to the joy found in Erin Byrne's essays about France's grand treasures, from her museums to her old bakeries, creaky bookstores, wine shops, sun-spangled cafes, the red windmills of Montmartre, and even the harrowing bullet holes left behind from past wars. Read on, for this is a reverie-inducing glimpse of past and present France."
-Phil Cousineau, author of The Book of Roads: A Life Made of Travel and The Art of Pilgrimage


"Erin Byrne's Wings presents a mosaic of storytelling as vivid, compelling, and rich as the City of Light itself. It's almost impossible to stop reading. Of course I'm partial to "Av� Metro"  her masterful rendering of what it feels like to discover, then rediscover, the power of music  but Byrne's lyric writing and eye for detail make every story a standout. What time is the next flight to France?"
-Nancy David Kho, writer


"In her literary travels, Erin Byrne has soaked up the essence of France and drips it to her readers in wonderful vignettes that make up Wings.
"Masterfully weaving personal reminiscences with history, culture, and personages, both famous and unknown, Byrne has created a mini tour of the nation and its most significant times that will enchant the reader while it enlightens them.
From the landing beaches of Normandy to apartment walls that relate their own intimate memories, Wings bares the soul of a country and is a dream read for any Francophile."
-James Michael Dorsey, author of Vanishing Tales from Ancient Trails


"After reading Wings I can't imagine going much longer without a trip to France. I was hungry for everything while I read it; the perfect baguette, the scented breeze of the Luxembourg gardens...everything. Byrne is a master at the art of travel writing that transports and enchants. Byrne's eloquent prose is the perfect cadeau for Francophiles and armchair travelers; she captures the smells, tastes, and memories of her beloved France in a book you will not want to put down."
-Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson, author of Peanut Butter & Naan: Stories of an American Mom in the Far East.


"Reading these beautifully crafted essays is like traveling with your best friend. Erin Byrne not only experiences France with her senses, she experiences it with her heart, rendering her impressions of the country, its art, and its people with both grace and warmth."
-Janis Cooke Newman, author of A Master Plan for Rescue


"Just as art historians painstakingly collected and reassembled the shards of Winged Victory, now in the Louvre, in these candid essays, Erin Byrne travels the vineyards, bakeries, art museums, and into the history of France discovering integral but mislaid pieces of herself. Crammed with information for the Francophile, this sweeping collection uses its magical setting to demonstrate the transformative power of art and travel."
-Anne Korkeakivi, author of Shining Sea and An Unexpected Guest


"Lyrical, brilliant, and fascinating. It's not just a travel book or a memoir., but a collection of essays that sometimes read like short stories - of French food and wine exploration, traveling with teens and even a journey through Arles with Vincent van Gogh.
"Places, like friends, must trust you before they confide," writes Byrne. So too, books. This book is a treasure on oh so many levels. Let it trust you as reader, and bless you on your journey."

-Sharon Mehdi, writer and filmmaker, The Secret of Chartres is in the Light


"For anyone who fell for France long ago, like me, Wings rekindles the love anew while posing the inevitable question we all ask ourselves: What is it about a place that pulls us back? Erin weaves together the answers through deeply observed and reflective stories about the people, places, and ghosts, familiar and foreign, that swirl in our memories and hearts long after we return home."
-Kimberley Lovato, author of Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves


"Wings is an amazing book and a delightful and compelling read. Erin Byrne urges the reader to be open to the transformational possibilities of Deep Travel, in which all aspects of the culture are experienced through the senses, and draws us into her own transformations  from the recovery of her lost authentic self, to becoming an accomplished storymaker, to being inspired to fly by Winged Victory. This book will be cherished by all who seek true connection and meaning in their travels."
-James Bonnet, author of Stealing Fire from the Gods


"Wings showcases Erin Byrne's many literary gifts. Reflective and poetic, it's a magic mirror held up to French art, culture and history. It's also a window into Byrne's life, with its share of shadows. But while Wings is often profound, many stories are frank and funny-I'll never think of Balzac the same way again."
-Jeff Greenwald, author of Snake Lake and Shopping for Buddhas


"Wings is a smart and delicious memoir filled with the particulars of France and travel, we yearn for in our regular lives. From traveling with her sons to contemplative moments alone (including one at 3:30 a.m. in the morning bringing a message from perhaps the ghost of renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson), this shifts us from our own daily realities and into the elegance of moments and the charm of a country only a true traveler is privy to.
"Reading this book, I felt as if I were the one traveling near the Seine and "dipping a little bread in my glass of scarlet wine," as Byrne's essays fully captures the intimate details of France. Byrne writes, Often we have a hunger for something, but know not what, and these beautiful, inviting essays become what feeds us by allowing us to travel directly into France without a plane ticket. Engaging, poignant, and honest, Wings will nourish your inner traveler and take you into the enchantments of France without ever having to leave your reading chair. This book is truly a must-read to satisfy the wanderlust in each of us."
-Kelli Russell Agodon, editor of Two Sylvias Press and author of Hourglass Museum and The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Life


"In Wings, Erin Byrne invites us along on her quest for wholeness, walking us through unexpected doorways of the heart, history and soul of France. She weaves an intricate geography of past and present, people and places, politics and poetry, duendes and joys, inspiring us to explore and embrace the signs and stories of our own inner and outer landscapes. In Wings we witness the delicate blossoming of a writer and a women, and when she soars on new wings, we too soar, knowing like never before that we belong to this world - forever. I love this book. Wings is an invitation to listen deeply."
-Lone M�rch, author of Seeing Red, A Woman's Quest for Truth, Power and the Sacred


"The pieces collected in Wings are light, airy, and delectable like the confections displayed in the window of a fine Parisian patisserie. Bon app�tit!"
-Nicholas O'Connell, author of The Storms of Denali and director, Travel, Food and Wine Writing in France


"In this engaging collection of stories, Byrne introduces the country that has captured her heart, detailing her love affair through vivid descriptions of France's traditions, people and even some of its famous characters. A compelling read for anyone who is fascinated by the French or who hopes to find inspiration in their own travels."
-Janna Graber, editor, Adventures of a Lifetime


"Wings, an ode to courage and discovery, is a place to feel prose coming to life, reaching in and through you. An invitation to test your own creativity, embraced with the dancing, hopeful light of Erin's writing. A millefeuille of many layers, to be savored one piece at a time."
-Jane Weston, co-author of Charlie Hebdo: Histoire, Enjeux, Perspectives, � # Charlie


"The vibrant joie de vivre that Erin Byrne exudes from years of slow travel through France shines from every page of this poignant collection of stories. Her passion for French history, art, culture, and cuisine has led to rewarding lessons for the reader to discover, but most moving of all is her open-heartedness: a keen and cultivated awareness that every journey, encounter, and even a gleaming glass of Bordeaux might be a doorway to deeper understanding-of a country as layered and storied as France, and ultimately, of oneself."
-Candace Rose Rardon, sketch artist, BBC Travel, The Way of Wanderlust by Don George


"In a seamless blend of memoir, travel narrative, and history, Byrne follows the trail of sensations and evocations triggered by the art, cuisine, and daily rhythms of France and spins together a work in which even centuries-old beams on the ceiling of a Parisian apartment become personified and share their wisdom on all they have witnessed. Her obsession with the textures and flavors of a Parisian baguette, and their absence when she returns to the States, triggers her thoughts of France's own alternating enjoyment and deprivation of the staple through the highs and lows of revolutions and wars. As she travels, her powers of perception lead to her vulnerability giving way to strength; her complacency bowing to humility. She uncovers connections across geography, and also across time: she finds a mentor in the late photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, and writes a thank-you letter to a deceased French woman who helped American families grieve over their loved ones who were killed in action in the first town liberated during D-Day, since the woman's ability to uplift so many spirits had also touched the author. Erin Byrne's lyrical narratives and essays in Wings celebrate travel as a vehicle that can not only transform us, but can teach us just as much about a place as about ourselves."
-Darrin DuFord, author of Is There a Hole in the Boat? Tales of Travel in Panama without a Car


"Erin Bryne's deep appreciation for France  and for the unique power of travel to transform us -- is infectious. Here, she writes with heart and tenderness about the country's greatest art and artists, its shattering role in World War II, and the pleasures of family travel. In fact, as I read about her experiences traveling in Paris with her sons, I couldn't help but reflect on my own travels with my daughter. I defy you to read these stories and not want to hop on the next flight to Charles de Gaulle."
-Jim Benning, co-founder World Hum, contributing editor, BBC Travel


"Wings was so magical I wished it would never end. I had planned on skipping through it - I couldn't. Her stories glued me to every line. They are personal-traveling with her sons who discover Europe for the first time, lyrical-her description of the Pere Lachaise Cemetery is a classic: it offers "piano lessons from Frederic Chopin or jam sessions with Jim Morrison",who are buried there, and finely observant-on her visit to the famed Shakespeare & Co bookstore, she writes, "On the top shelf, toga-clad Socrates poses a question to bespectacled Sartre. Seneca flourishes his stylus and writes, The good man possesses a kingdom. Rumi rubs shoulders with the irreverent Rimbaud as the wine sings in their veins. Gandhi's Autobiography sits straight and still upon A Hundred Years of Solitude. Miller spoons Nin. They share the anticipation that builds when the cover crinkles open to the first line on the first page." Rarely have I pictured a bookshelf so clearly.

Read it as you wish, dipping into a mood here, a historical story there, a delicious meal over yonder. Above all, be ready for a challenge.

"Erin Byrne reinterprets people and places through her own prism in a way that forces you to do the same. As she says, "The stories in this book and are not meant to amuse or entertain you, but to call forth responses in you." And they certainly do.

"With Erin I ask myself: Why am I standing in front of this? What makes that taste so earthy? What is the backstory here? While unfurling her travels through France and beyond, her book isn't a guide in the traditional sense. It is more like a spiritual, artistic and historical friend who walks with you as you travel, pointing out relationships, eliciting emotions and forcing you to experience place through all your senses.

"Have your travel memories become forever linked with food, she asks? Have your taste buds taken you back in time? What is the source of the stories that make up your life? How can you not answer?"

-Leyla Giray Alyanak, author of Women on the Road

"Erin Byrne's stories are a poetic tapestry of her travels in France. Following her inner muse on mythological Wings, she weaves tales inspired by art and longing, transformation and vulnerability. Her muse's message resonates long after turning the final page."
-Lisa Alpine, author of Wild Life: Travel Adventures of a Worldly Woman and Exotic Life: Travel Tales of an Adventurous Woman


"With lush prose, remarkable honesty and passion that crackles off the page, Erin Byrne's beautifully-observed stories reveal the many ways - both subtle and profound - that France has transformed her over a decade of travels there. What is perhaps most inspiring is how she peeks behind the obvious and finds connection, meaning and most of all beauty everywhere on her journey - in a taxi in Arles, on a staircase in the Louvre, in the simplest glass of Bordeaux, in a Normandy village steeped with history. Byrne urges us all to find our stories, but these are hers, and they are dazzling."
-Marcia DeSanctis, author of 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go


"Reading Wings while in France made me feel a deeper connection with French culture than any guidebook could have accomplished. Byrne explores the rare space where adventure and intimacy intersect. Each chapter summons the reader deeper into France's pastoral terrain and Byrne's own inner landscape, with imagery that commands your attention on every page. A stunning twist of language and characters, both new and familiar, make this a must-read for anyone who's ever wanted to find themselves in France."
-Jenna Scatena, Travel and Leisure Correspondent

Vignettes & Postcards


Foreword Book of the Year Finalist

Next Generation Indie Book Award Winner

Readers' Favorite Silver Award

Readers' Favorite 5-Star Award

International Book Award Finalist

USA Book News Best Book Award Finalist

Anderbo Top Finalist Book

Paris Book Festival, Honorable Mention

New York Book Festival, Honorable Mention

San Francisco Book Festival, Honorable Mention

Vignettes & Postcards is an exquisite collection of stories by writers from all over the world who gather regularly at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore to write, and is an anthology from the workshop "Leaping Into the Void," taught by writer Erin Byrne.

Since its doors opened in 1951, writers and artists have come to Shakespeare and Company from every corner of the globe for sanctuary, community, and inspiration. Anyone who has spent time there - from the thousands of tumbleweeds who have worked there in exchange for a place to stay to the many famous authors who have at one point called it home - knows that something other happens when writers gather there and begin to create. These stories shimmer with this quality.

Vignettes & Postcards: Writings from The Evening Writing Workshop at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, Paris, Fall 2011 presents twenty-six stories in a variety of genres - short fiction, personal essay, interview, travel, and poetry. Each one represents the workshop's emphasis on instinct and spontaneity, and its intensive focus upon deep creative revisioning.

Taste rough grains of cinnamon that scratch the tip of your tongue; feel the weight of a pen in your hand during a moment of pure inspiration; hear the pealing of bells from high up on an Italian hillside; consider the secret rebellion of fashion; and find yourself inside the dragon dream of Sylvia Plath. Tumbleweed or not, every reader who opens its pages will savor Vignettes & Postcards.

Vignettes & Postcards 3rd edition is forthcoming from Reputation Books under the title Vignettes & Postcards From Paris. The next book in the series will be Vignettes & Postcards From Morocco.

You can order the new e-book here or

"Vignettes & Postcards" edited by Erin Byrne and Anna Pook contains a collection of humorous, lyrical, and philosophical short stories that I found utterly engaging. The editors demonstrate keen literary instincts in anthologizing these fine pieces of short fiction..."

To order online, go to:

Erin Byrne
and Anna Pook

Anna Pook has led the Evening Writing Workshop at Shakespeare & Company since March 2009. Anna has been a teacher for over nine years, working in Brighton and Northern India before moving to Paris in 2007. She has worked as a features writer for the European Independent Film Festival, as a translator/editor for Amelia Films, and as a freelance editor/writing coach in Paris and Florida. Her most recent work, A Leap of Faith, describes Anna's evolution from workshop participant to instructor. Anna is currently working on Write at the Top of the Stairs, a writing guide and memoir, and is the literary editor for Vestoj, an academic fashion journal.


May 1, 2012 at 6 pm, Shakespeare and Company, Paris

May 5, 2012 at 1 pm, Café du Pont Neuf, Paris

August 13, 2012 at 6 pm, Book Passage Bookstore, Ferry Building, San Francisco, California

August 15 at 7 pm, Rebound Books, San Rafael, California



The Storykeeper of Paris

Erin is currently working on this novel, set in World War 2 Paris, and its sequel, The Red Notebook.


The Red Notebook

A Novel of Americans Passed Through Occupied Paris