I AM IN VIENNA. Or, rather, I should be in Vienna. Put it this way, I would like to be in Vienna, right now, on the Austrian leg of a mini book tour – Salzburg, Vienna, Zurich, Munich – for the reissue in Germany of my novel Die blaue Stunde (The Blue Afternoon). But force majeure has interceded in the shape of Covid-19 and I can now only
visit Vienna in my imagination, in my head. However, Vienna-in-the-head has its compensations.

In fact, Vienna was one of four cities I wrote about in fiction long before I visited them. The other three
were Berlin, Lisbon and Los Angeles. Why those four? It’s curious how the appeal of certain cities haunts and stimulates your imagination prior to any direct acquaintance with the places themselves.

And, furthermore, my interest in these cities was confined to very specific periods of their history. Vienna before the First World War, Los Angeles in the 1970s, Lisbon in the 1930s, and Berlin between the wars.

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