Question about French verb tenses.  I know that the perfect is often used
to express simple past:

j'ai mange' = "I ate"

It seems I'm seeing the use of the simple present as a sort of narrative
tense.  Is this is a peculiariaty of the text I'm learning from, an
oversimplification, perhaps, or is this common in written French.  I see
things like:

je mange la cane, et c'est si bonne.
For what in English would be expressed:
I *ate* the duck, and it *was* so good.

I'm just confused.  Maybe there's a table online that lists the common
uses of all the French tenses.  (Spanish is so much easier!)

                Living your life is a task so difficult,
                it has never been attempted before.