Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka

7 Dec

Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka

Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka

John Kessel, James Patrick Kelly

Language: English

Pages: 283

ISBN: 1616960493

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The tourist shops of Prague sell dozens of items commemorating Franz Kafka. You can drink a latte in the Café Kafka, add sugar to it from a packet with Kafka’s face on it, and then light your cigarette from a box of Kafka matches.

Franz Kafka died in obscurity in 1924, publishing only a handful of bizarre stories in little-known literary magazines. Yet today he persists in our collective imaginations. Even those who have never read any of Kafka’s fiction describe their tribulations with the Department of Motor Vehicles as being Kafkaesque.

Kafkaesque explores the fiction of generations of authors inspired by Kafka’s work. These dystopic, comedic, and ironic tales include T. C. Boyle’s roadside garage that is a never-ending trial, Philip Roth’s alternate history in which Kafka immigrates to America to date his aunt, Jorge Luis Borges’s labyrinthine public lottery that redefines reality, Carol Emshwiller’s testimony by the first female to earn the right to call herself a “man,” and Paul Di Filippo’s unfamiliar Kafka—journalist by day, costumed crime-fighter by night.

Also included is Kafka’s classic story “The Hunger Artist,” appearing both in a brand-new translation and in an illustrated version by legendary cartoonist R. Crumb (Fritz the Cat). Additionally, each author discusses Kafka’s writing, its relevance, its personal influence, and Kafka’s enduring legacy.















metaphor, abuse of portmanteau words, and other experiments perhaps typical of all young people. Amidst all this boisterous print, a short text signed by Franz Kafka seemed to me-in spite of my youthful docility as a reader-extraordinarily insipid. Now, in my old age, I dare at last to own up to a case of unforgivable literary insensitivity; I was offered a revelation, and I passed it by.2 Yet while the wide acceptance and understanding of the adjective Kafkaesque is evidence of Franz

witness. "What about the girls in the main office? They'll take you-one of them told me so." "They take you?" "No, but-" "Look: they say that to be accommodating, don't you see? I mean, we are customers, after all. But they can't give you a lift-it's their job if they do." "You mean-?" "That's right. And wait'll you see the bill when you finally do get out of here. Word is that cot you're sitting on goes for twelve bucks a night." The bastards. It could be weeks here. He'll lose his job,

traveling salesman, whereas Kafka seems like he's trying to curtly elicit that ambiguous perplexity that makes every man an island, every woman an isthmus, every child a continental divide. My friend, Quigley, once described the book The Autobiography of a Yogi as "a miracle a page," and that's the kind of effect I'm striving for, building up marvels until it just becomes a big, hallucinogenic shitstorm of wonder. Admittedly, sometimes the forecast runs into a lowpressure system and all I get is

seemingly pristine condition. Paging through it with his long graceful fingers, he stopped somewhere in the middle and then turned it around and laid it on the desk facing me. "Bright Morning," he said. "My God," I said. "I was beginning to think it had merely been a delusion." "Yes, I know exactly what you mean," he said. "I've spent a good portion of my life tracing the history of that story." "Is it a forgery?" I asked. "Nothing of the sort, though, in its style it is slightly unusual

but the seat is empty... In Jack's dream, he is in Palestine. Dora is at his side. Outside, the desert is hot and brilliant. The sky is porcelain blue. A bowl of Jaffa oranges glows with its own light beneath the doctor's window. "A clean bill of health. There is scarring from the lesions, of course, but the disease is arrested. You are cured, my friend." Dr Lowy, in a curious gesture, places his hand upon Jack's forehead. Jack leaves the kibbutz where he has lived during his cure and moves

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