The Paris Review

The Vocabulary of Tourism: An Interview with Laura van den Berg

In The Third Hotel, Laura van den Berg’s phantasmagoric fourth book, a recently widowed woman named Clare travels alone to Havana to attend the Festival of New Latin American Cinema. There, she sees her deceased husband Richard and everything she knew—or thought she knew—about their marriage is thrown into turmoil. It’s the perfect premise for a novel that, in van den Berg’s hands, is both emotionally nuanced and philosophically profound.

Part of the book’s appeal is the way van den Berg shines a light on the casual misogyny of some of our once-revered artists. “Torture the women, Hitchcock was reported to have said when a young director asked him for advice,” she writes. And, “If you leave a woman, though, you probably ought to shoot her, Hemingway had once written in a letter.” The novel’s clear-eyed scrutiny of the treatment of women in horror films made me rethink a lot of my own viewing habits as

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review10 min read
The Soviet Children Who Survived World War II
Over the course of her career, the Nobel Prize–winning writer Svetlana Alexievich has tirelessly chronicled some of the most monumental events of the twentieth century, including World War II, the Chernobyl disaster, and the collapse of the Soviet Un
The Paris Review13 min read
The Crane Wife
Original illustration © Daniel Gray-Barnett Ten days after I called off my engagement I was supposed to go on a scientific expedition to study the whooping crane on the gulf coast of Texas. Surely, I will cancel this trip, I thought, as I shopped for
The Paris Review7 min read
I Am the Mother of This Eggshell
Sabrina Orah Mark’s monthly column, Happily, focuses on fairy tales and motherhood. When my grandfather was dying, he pointed into the gray hospital air and said, “Buildings.” “Drawn in light pencil,” he said. “All around me.” “Are they yours?” I as