In Paradise with Michael Jackson
Presses de la Cité
Number of pages
Michael Jackson is a legend, a man who entertained the world and mesmerized vast audiences for more than four decades. His life and death have been covered in lurid detail in the media. Gonzague Saint Bris, however, gives us a new perspective on Jackson, a perspective drawn from personal experience and related through transcriptions of their intimate dialogues.
Gonzague Saint Bris takes us away from the scandals and the fame that informed Jackson’s life and invites us to share his time with the star. They were together on a journey into the heart of Africa, deep in the Congo, during Jackson’s pilgrimage to his ancestral land.
The encounter between the two men occurred by chance. Jackson saw Saint Bris on Good Morning America, telling a story about da Vinci and Francis I, king of France from 1515 to 1547 and considered the country’s first Renaissance monarch. Jackson invited the French author to go with him to Africa on the journey he described as “his return to paradise.” From Gabon to Côte-d’Ivoire, Saint Bris was the only journalist allowed around the singer, and he had occasion to see the true passion devoted to him by local inhabitants in that part of the world.
As we travel with them, hearing their conversations, we discover Michael Jackson to be an educated man who impressed Saint Bris with his deep—and unexpected—knowledge of the works of Degas, da Vinci, and Poussin; of art in general, sculpture in particular, and of the great men of history. The King of Pop was fascinated by other influential people throughout history: Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Louis XIV. As he discussed the way society thought of them, he made it clear that he was aware of his own image: an adult-child, a black-born man whose “biggest joy was to know [he] could choose his own face.”
The portrait, full of the star’s maxims and thoughts, can also be seen as a tribute to the real Michael Jackson from Saint Bris, who seems to have been, for awhile, more than just a journalist to the performer.
Gonzague Saint Bris : Gonzague Saint Bris has been a journalist, a contributor to Le Figaro, as well as a representative of the French Culture and Communication ministry. Writing primarily historical fiction and biography, he has published more than forty titles. Among these are the bestseller François Ier et la Renaissance (Éditions Télémaque, 2008) and La Fayette (Éditions Télémaque, 2006), translated and available in English (Pegasus, 2010).