Book of the Week

A History of Taxis by Jan Collet

The title took me by surprise. So, it was my first question when I recently met up with Jan Collet on a brief stopover from Paris. Why would such a renowned storyteller and author take on the subject of taxis and their history? Her answer caught me off guard.
“I’ve been a taxi driver all my life. I love taxis. I owe everything to taxis. Every one of my stories began life as an adventure in my taxi.”

Proof of this love quietly permeates every single page of the book. It’s not a boastful, loudmouth love but one that nonetheless makes its mark page after page the author recounts her adventures behind the wheel.

Enter the second surprise! What kind of book is this? It’s far from being the academic study hinted at in the title. It can best be described as an autobiography in 35 word pictures, as the author recounts some of the true-life experiences which have entered her life via the door of her taxi. There’s everything here from the romantic to the comic to the terrifying.

We see her during the 1995 riots tearing through the streets of Paris in a burning taxi and ditching it in the Seine just before it explodes and blowing her and her passengers to smithereens. We experience her amazement at the sight of the bombed out taxi now repainted and neatly spruced up taking pride of place in front of an African capital’s airport – a pointless exercise in public relations to impress an unbelieving assembly of dignitaries. We also see the agony aunt at work, as client after client pours out their troubles whilst being chauffeured along the streets of various European capitals, an aspect of her work Ms. Collet puts down to her confiding nature.

Those who know her work will definitely recognise the sources for some of her stories here. But, if you’re like me, you may well find that truth is stranger than fiction.


Hi Paul,

I left you a note at 3WW on how to embed a link. Hope it helps.

Sounds like a very interesting book. I am not familiar with her works.



15 August 2007 at 14:06  

i have had several friends over the years that were taxi drivers,, so i can only imagine the stories she has to tell... this sounds like a great book....

15 August 2007 at 14:06  

This is quite interesting. I'm not certain if it is (since I am not quite familiar with Collet) but it sounds like an inviting review of a very intriguing book. If it is in fact fiction and is just made out to seem like a review, then it's a really good concept! :)

15 August 2007 at 14:31  

I'm not sure - is this a book review or a fictional story?

Either way, those taxi stories sounds interesting.

15 August 2007 at 16:20  

Paul, thanks for this insight. Very interesting. I think I will check it out.

15 August 2007 at 17:22  

Well written. Is this a real book?

Replace the "(" with the angle brackets you'd use in front of code, and this will work:

(a href="THE_URL_HERE")What you want us to see(/a)

When you publish, the link will show up as "What you want us to see" and when we click, it will take us to THE_URL_HERE

You MUST use the quotation marks... it won't work without them.

15 August 2007 at 19:57  

Ooh, love the truth is stranger than fiction type of stories. Driving a taxi WOULD evoke all kinds of stories. Very interesting.

15 August 2007 at 21:35  

Real or fiction, either way it is a good read.

15 August 2007 at 21:47  

Very nice Paul. I enjoyed it. It was a smooth read!

I see you got a couple of answers on how to embed a hyperlink in your comments. If you still need a hand, drop by and leave me a note. And thank you for the kind words on my 3WW submission.

16 August 2007 at 00:56  

If this is real, it sounds like an interesting book. If it's fiction, you made it very believable!

16 August 2007 at 01:36  

I live in NY and my uncle was a taxi driver so I'm fascinated by cab stories

If it wasn't the truth, it certainly read as if it were

16 August 2007 at 01:44  

Hilarious! I mean, that so many folks think this here is a real book...but Sugar Pie, it is a real fine 3WW entry--jes' real real fine.

16 August 2007 at 14:42  

First of all, thanks to all those who have given me an answer concerning how to embed a link into a comment. I'll try it out next week.

So now it's time for confessions. The book doesn't actually exist. But it's not completely fictitious. Jan is anglicised version of a lady in our local writing group who is in fact a taxi driver. A lot of her writings in the group are based on her experiences as a taxi driver. So the moment I saw the word taxi, I knew what I wanted to write. Throw in a few of my own taxi adventures, and you have my post. Glad you all enjoyed it, anyway.

16 August 2007 at 15:58  

Well, it did read like a true story, which I guess is one of the signs of good fiction. I can see how a taxi would be a very inspirational place.

16 August 2007 at 18:35  

I think I always find truth stranger than fiction...

23 August 2007 at 23:39  

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