SUMMER IN PRAGUE by Zdena Salivarova


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A sad/gay Czechoslovakian product, which in English has the faintly bittersweet, nostalgic quality of those early girl-against-the-world odysseys of the '30's and '40's in which the Kitty Foyles or the Ida Lupinos wisecracked through the days and cried through the nights. Jana Honzlova is the ostracized member of the ""Daisy Chorus of Songs and Dances,"" a folk kultur troop for domestic and foreign uplift. But Jana, whose father and two brothers were in exile or in camps for being in the path of the People's Democracy's purifying currents, is weeded from the Daisies, left to tend the of rice while the others go on tour. Beginning to enjoy her lonely post thanks to the jovial companionship of the cleaning lady, Jana opens secret files and is enlightened as to her status: ""doesn't have a positive attitude toward our People's Democracy. . . refuses to even show good will by making clippings. . . is a moral swamp."" Jana's trek through intelligence offices is a tragicomic bramble patch of ricochets with a surprise -- an intelligence chief seems genuinely smitten with Jana as distinct from Jana-of-the-files. But after Jana's deepest tragedy, the accidental death of her much loved little brother -- in which human cruelty, a boy's wistful fantasy of a just world and bureaucratic callousness all play a part -- she cannot believe the intelligence officer wasn't offering a trap with a passport. ""No airplane in the world could carry the things I'd like to take with me."" Jana has a sharp, cynical wit, although she lambastes rather than pierces her targets. However, weighted for the initial cultural dislocation, this is an attempt to kick a few bricks from the top-heavy edifices which governments can become, even if all you get is an aching toe and a despairing heart.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1972
Publisher: Harper & Row