Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum
Doubleday Press, 302 pages.

Long out of print (even the reprint is out of print), Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel is mostly forgotten except to librarians, famed only to lovers of old films (two versions were made) and musicals (a Tommy Tune directed version swept Broadway in 1989). The novel itself seems to have been swept from our cultural memory and this is unfortunate: it remains a tightly conceived story of six disparate characters and the way their fates intertwine over the course of two days at the eponymous hotel. Both story and prose (translated by Basil Creighton) survive the ages and in some cases remain surprisingly relevant - most especially in the story of Preysing, the manager of a company, who is faced with the decision of whether or not to succumb to dishonest business practices just to make a buck.