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April 27, 2010

Breakfast with Kafka

Having finished up with The Count of Monte Cristo, I went into the yarn-room-office and ran my fingers along the bookshelves looking for my next good read. I like the comforting feeling of being able to shop from your own library (books or yarn!) I landed on this one:

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The Trial by Franz Kafka

Like The Count of Monte Cristo, this book is the same one I bought when first assigned to read this story in a literature class. So I calculate that The Trial has been with me since my first year of college, and traveled from Mississippi to Tennessee to Florida and to California with me and seen me through one marriage and divorce and twenty different shades of blonde.

It even has notes from the first time I read it, which made me laugh out loud when I saw them:

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I think I was trying to be smart and Existentialist, but my notes are like a mental patient's manifesto...

clean air stifles
normal life
duplicity murky
dehumanized
rhetoric!!!!!

Seriously ya'll.

And even though I would never have admitted it back then, I didn't really get Kafka when I first had to read The Trial and later The Metamorphosis. It was only after I had a professor who was really into authors that I got into Kafka, because we talked just as much -- if not more -- about his life and his diaries than the books. For me, The Diaries of Franz Kafka was so much more intriguing than anything we were assigned to read because he was full of crazypants and ennui:

August 29, 1914 The end of one chapter a failure; another chapter, which began beautifully, I shall hardly -- or rather certainly not -- be able to continue as beautifully, while at the time, during the night, I should certainly have succeeded with it. But I must not forsake myself, I am entirely alone.

And:

September 1, 1914
In complete helplessness barely wrote two pages. I fell back a great deal today, though I slept well. ... My old apathy hasn't completely deserted me yet, as I can see, and my coldness of heart perhaps never. That I recoil from no ignominy can as well indicate hopelessness as give hope.


Dude, get thee to a romantic comedy, STAT!

No, what I love about Kafka is that even if I don't all the way get every aspect of his writing, if I let go of trying to be cerebral and analytical and stuff I can just feel his tension and stress from the words. You know this person feels imprisoned, you can feel the muddiness of it, you can sense the panic just below the surface at all times. It's weird but good.

So that's what I'm re-reading today. Let's see -- first Edmond Dant├Ęs, now Joseph K. Well, you don't exactly need to dig up Freud and buy a couch to see that I'm in a place. What's next? Plath? A history of the black plague? Maybe some lighthearted Edgar Allen Poe? Actually, I think my next read will be a thick stack of trashy tabloid magazines. For balance.

Speaking of balance, how does she manage with all those whiskers?

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And traffic on the 101 was insane in the membrane, saw this on a big grey pickup truck under big grey skies:

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I know that the driver probably hangs drywall, but for some reason I felt a little dirty after reading this. The drrrrty kind of dirty.


Posted by laurie at April 27, 2010 8:50 AM