Guided Tours of Hell: Novellas

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9780805055863: Guided Tours of Hell: Novellas

The less-than-innocents abroad in these two daring short novels are Americans in Europe, involved in what turn out to be pleasure tours of hell: shocking, bewildering trips that change forever their ideas about history, reality, politics, and sex.

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Review:

These two novellas about Americans abroad combine to create one wallop of a book. As they confront the legacy of history and their own shortcomings, Prose's characters are obsessively self-aware, even narcissistically petty--just like we are. In the title story, Landau, a struggling playwright, engages in a vanity-laden struggle of wills with a charismatic Holocaust-survivor in the cafeteria of a death camp-turned-tourist-attraction during a Kafka symposium. In the second novella "Three Pigs in Five Days," Nina is sent to Paris by her boss and ex-lover to write an article about a whorehouse-turned-hotel. While there, she is plagued by the demons of her erotic past as well as the romantic ghosts of the dysfunctional relationships of dead Parisian artists and their mistresses. Always harrowing, occasionally baroque, and tinged with hilarity, Guided Tours of Hell is an early candidate for the best fiction of the year.

About the Author:

Francine Prose is the author of sixteen novels, including A Changed Man, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. A former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Prose is a highly regarded critic and essayist, and has taught literature and writing for more than twenty years at major universities. She is a distinguished writer in residence at Bard College, and she lives in New York City.

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