Prague's expat critics

Yesterday, the Real Scott MacMillan posted a link to Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K (STACK), a blog from Cairo. It is indeed “highly readable,” though I’m not all that interested in what’s going on in that part of the world (for one thing the women here are WAY hotter than the femmes over there). Nevertheless, I found this introduction to this post pretty much nail-on-the-head. STACK’s Jeff writes about critiques of books written by Americans who were in Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism:

??nearly every review [is] filled with jealousy and endless statements about how many who were in Prague or Budapest in those days could have been much better.

Unfortunately this is a trend that continues to this day, especially in the Prague Post. Even one-hit wonders like Gary Shteyngart continue to dis the efforts of expat writers. He should know how difficult it is to write a novel, especially a good one (which, admittedly, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook is): it’s been three years and rising since his debut. One critic has actually compared him to Martin Amis. Now, Shteyngart’s good, but not that good – if he were Amisesque, he’d certainly be a hell of a lot more prolific in his writing and doing more than just cruising through writers’ festivals on the strength of his debut.

But I digress. I thought we expats were done with all this pissing and moaning about other people’s efforts to move beyond just getting by, to do something they love. Unfortunately the flames still burn eternal.

On the upside, that hasn’t stopped anyone from taking chances and exploring new creative avenues. Prague has always been very kind to avant-garde artists – the city embraced Mozart when his compositions got too adventurous for the Viennese, and to this day is very generous to pretty much anyone who’s got the balls to step outside the mainstream, beyond the borders of the alternative and into a space that is resolutely unique.

Mar 9, 11:29 (Filed under: Culture, People )

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  1. The link to the Czech girls doesn’t work.
    Jeff    Mar 9, 18:20    #
  2. Thanks, but it was working fine on my pc – I’ve altered the link somewhat, so it should work for everybody now. Anyway, it’s not as good a site as it could be, especially considering it’s the official “Ceska Miss” site.

    Nice blog, btw. I’m not at all up to speed with what’s going on in your part of the world, but I find your writing really engaging.


    Patrick    Mar 9, 20:44    #
  3. Thanks. Sorry for the false alarm – must be my computer. I wanted to set up another poll – Lebanese women v. Czech women.

    The “super night clubs” all over the Middle East are filled with women from Eastern Europe and Russia.
    Jeff    Mar 9, 21:22    #
  4. Excellent – I’m looking forward to your poll, and to see who you choose to represent the CR. You definitely gotta include Silvia Saint (nee Tomacalova)...
    Patrick    Mar 9, 21:31    #
  5. I’m with you, Jeff. All other things equal, I’d go for a Middle Eastern hottie over a Czech hottie most days of the week. Jesus, are we actually having this conversation? In public no less?
    Scott MacMillan    Mar 10, 03:21    #
  6. So your example of prague embracing the avant-garde is quite a ways back-with mozart that is. any recent examples? I can think of a few but have to admit that with music, prague has a ways to go.

    HIS VOICE-writes about a lot of experimental or non-commercial modern music. I have asked many czechs if they know the publication (since it is written only in czech). Petr Hrubes (sp?) from NOD knew it maybe since he books HIS VOICE acts once a month. Tamizdat is a great (quite hidden) record shop with the publication. but otherwise not many know about it. maybe it is a good thing…
    EC sonic    Mar 10, 11:46    #
  7. We’re probably on the same page when it comes to examples. Many of them are on Tamizdat and play festivals like Trutnov and Mezi Ploty.

    Personally, I find Czechs very musically open minded, in spite of all their discos, cover bands, and Top-40 stations. Then again, I come from a city that sucked hard when it came to live and alternative music, which is pretty sad when you consider Ottawa has two university radio stations.
    Patrick    Mar 10, 12:50    #