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Prague Author's Second Novel, Not So Much

Arthur Phillips
Arthur Phillips

Thanks again to Carlson for pointing out the excellent Budapest gossip blog Pestiside (see previous post). Among the first posts I came across when I went there was the hilarious Local Writers Celebrate Failure of Novelist's Second Work, a skewering of Budapest expats' reaction to Arthur Phillips's new novel The Egyptologist, follow-up to his incomprehensibly popular first book Prague set (oh-so-ironically) in Budapest.

I'm sure many of you read that first novel. I suspect some others of you might remember the pleasure I had meeting Phillips at a book reading.

Phillips is actually quite a nice guy, whom I've met twice now (though I don't know anyone from our expat gang of friends who remembers him from when he lived there for two years or so in the early 1990s). This time around I am not going to make the same mistake: I have no intension of reading this book, though I have no reason to suspect it is anything other than excellent (save this review in the NY Times).

Rick E. Bruner | Gen Expat Life Updates | Sep 17, 2004 | Comments (3)

D'Amato launches Pestiside

A few weeks ago, Erik d'Amato invited me over to his place for a peek at a project he was developing. I was intrigued, but he couldn't convince me that Budapest really needed its own version of Gawker.

Now that I see the result, Pestiside, I've changed my mind.

On his 'about' page, Erik promises "spicy and incisive original items about the things that make Hungary actually worth living in or visiting, pithy recaps of the most important and colorful local news, and unbiased information and reviews of locally-available goods and services you are actually likely to use."

So far, Pestiside delivers. Recent topics include kooky Magyars petitioning the government to be officially classfied as 'Huns', a serial dog killer in the village of Rábacsanak, and Hungary's recent porn Oscar awards night. (Ironically, that item got Erik a link in Nick Denton's Fleshbot - congratulations!)

I especially like Erik's parody news summaries. The 'Serious New Update Service' seems to be items off the MIT newswire, or perhaps from Hungary Around the Clock. 'Sun Screen' presents the latest from Budapest's venerable paper of record:

Here at Pestiside, we read the Budapest Sun so you don't have to! And thanks to our patented Sun Screener™ we can offer you all the important highlights of Budapest's de-facto English-language newspaper of record, with none of its headache-producing rays and toxic emission.

Yes, even though I live in Budapest, I usually can't be bothered to pick up the local English-language newspapers. And when I do read it's usually the Budapest Times, which features Erik's popular gossip column, Stink. Naturally, the column is regular fodder for Pestiside.

It remains to be seen whether Erik can keep up his enthusiasm for the project (apathy being the leading killer of weblogs) and whether this project can actually make money. Erik hopes to build up enough of an audience that he can earn an income selling advertising. That may or may not happen, but I believe Erik has made his first point. Budapest is ready for its own version of Gawker, and Erik looks set to deliver.

Steven Carlson | Useful Resources | Sep 13, 2004 | Comments (3)