Guided Tours of Hell

Guided Tours of Hell Cover

Guided Tours of Hell


By Francine Prose

Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060080853, 256pp.

Publication Date: September 3, 2002


The less-than-innocents abroad in these 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, sex -- their entire lives.

In the title novella, a third-rate American playwright named Landau attends a literary conference in Prague, where an organized group excursion to a former concentration camp degenerates into a battle of wills and an exercise in egomania and public humiliation. Nina, the heroine of the second novella, "Three Pigs in Five Days," is sent to Paris to write an article for her lover's travel journal -- a dizzying, erotic pilgrimage that forces her to see how sex has distorted her view of the world.