Sunday, August 21, 2011

12-Books-in-12-Months Challenge: A Book About or Set in Your Favorite Place

Book: Prague Tales
Author: Jan Nerua


I went to Prague in the mid-90's. It was my first trip abroad since a trip to England during high school. I fell in the love with the place. It was like something out of book. We went to a Dada exhibit, who knew there were Czech Dadaists? Not only that but they seemed to get Dada better than the French. We visited Jan Svanmajer's place. And went to performance of Mozart's requiem for I think about $2. I think it helped also that the visit to Prague a city preserved in time was contrasted with a visit to Budapest, a city not preserved but that has just as much history.

Of course we visited Mala Strana where Prague Tales is set. The book is a set of sketches of various inhabitants of Mala Strana mostly told from the point of view of someone who has grown up there during the 19th century.

The last tale is one of a student who has made the mistake of taking lodging in the Mala Strana because he has a romantic view of what it will be like to live in this quaint district. The student is rapidly disabused of his notions. While the details would change I think the tale serves as a nice cautionary lesson to anyone who moves to a place because of quaint tales they've heard about it. Vermont comes to mind for me.

This book is not only set in one of my favorite places but it's also set in what has become one of my favorite times, the 19th century. Maybe it's all of the costume dramas I watch. Or all of the Balzac I've read. Lest you think I haven't learned the lesson of the last tale in Prague Tales, I know I wouldn't want to live in the 19th century but I do find its novels a constant source of interest.

It was nice to revisit this book that I bought in Prague and think about my time there.

I hope that you, too, will join the 12 Books in 12 Months challenge. Details are on Armchair Squid where you can also read up on what he's been reading as well as other who are doing the challenge.

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