By PAT HARTMAN
Thanks to The Miami Herald, we learn some of the innermost thoughts of author Lisa Unger. An interview with her is conducted by Andrea Asuaje, who writes on music, fashion, and many other subjects for that paper. Titled “Dark imagination fuels her plots,” this dialogue illuminates Unger’s views. In search of an economical vacation, the author’s family tried out a home exchange, whose success she describes enthusiastically:
In our search for a place to go with our first home exchange, we wound up in Prague. It just turned out to be this amazing experience. I was so inspired by . . . the beauty of it. It’s an amazingly gorgeous place, but one that has a secret heart.
How does this tie in with a column devoted to literary travel? Glad you asked! As a result of that vacation trip, Unger was inspired to set her latest novel, Die For You, in Prague, premier city of the Czech Republic. Not long ago, we noted that this European capitol is one of the Top Ten Party Destinations according to Student Universe. One reason for this popularity is the annual music festival, called Respect, which draws musicians from all over the globe. And of course, as is proper to any old continental urban center, the outlying areas are rife with castles and other scenic delights.
Taking a closer look, we find that it’s also a good place to visit if your major is hospitality, naval technology, or Holocaust reparations. A venerable monastery has just been repurposed into a fine hotel, called the Augustine, in honor of the monks whose former home it was. The US Navy is in negotiations to open a center for technological research in the city, which also recently hosted an international conference devoted to figuring out how to recover Nazi loot and return the stolen property to its rightful owners.
“And,” I hear you ask, “has Kevin Dolgin ever written about Prague?” Of course he has. The travel essay of which we speak is “Kafka’s Erotic Dream: Prague, Czech Republic” and it’s one of the munificent number of similarly captivating pieces found in The Third Tower Up From the Road. He writes about the Charles Bridge (pictured above) and the Sex Machine Museum (not pictured; sorry) and, you’re not going to believe this, but he verifies the impression made by Prague upon suspense novelist Lisa Unger with these shivery words:
It’s a city with a lot of secrets…it’s no wonder Kafka built his tortuous worlds here, and it’s no wonder that the castle of his nightmares bore so many rooms.