Category Archives: Film

Tales of travel and adventure in Central Europe

Prague Literary History: The Expat Contribution

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 1.19.30 PMWith the Globe Bookstore and Coffeehouse turning 20 years old this week, it got my mind thinking about all the hype in the 1990s about Prague serving as some kind of literary crucible from which future classics of English literature would emerge. The text here is from an article I wrote a couple of years back on that subject. My angle was that the author community was much maligned at the time but that more than a fair number of good and very good expat writers lived and worked here at some point in their lives and that their Prague experiences affected their output.

I still feel that way now, and the titles that have come out in print since I originally wrote the article only strengthen my case: Matt Welch’s “Myth of a Maverick” (nonfiction), Leslie Chang’s “Factory Girls” (also nonfiction) and Brendan McNally’s “Germania,” among others. My apologies to anyone I have overlooked in this article. Please help me fill in the blanks by leaving a comment below. A big thanks to Ken Nash, the author of the cartoon in the upper left. He drew it in 1993, showing that Prague was “over” practically from the moment it began. Read More →

A Modest Primer on Polish Film

AshesThe following text was adapted from the “Poland In Depth” section of “Frommer’s Best of Poland,” a guidebook I wrote in 2010. You can find a link to purchase the book from Amazon here.

Film is a great (if arguably insufficient) gateway to understanding a culture. While I’m not an expert on Polish film (and please take everything I write here with a grain of salt), I’ve been a big fan of Polish movies ever since I saw classics like ‘Man of Marble’ and ‘Ashes and Diamonds’ at graduate school in the 1980s.

At that time, Poland was mired deep within the Eastern bloc and Polish filmmakers were considered the most daring among the Eastern European countries at exposing the underlying contradictions within communism. Given the historical context, the films struck me as arty and daring. Read More →