There Are No Cups in Kafka’s Amerika

“Sword? One supposes a mistake, since Kafka never saw the monument. Yet it grows increasingly clear that Karl has landed in a nightmarish new world where everything is slightly off-kilter, skewed and disorienting. A bridge over the Hudson connects New York to Boston.” (Quote-Michael Dirda, WP | Image-Vanished Empires) Comic Moments in Literary Fiction #1 There’s plenty of reasons to laugh, so this series will explore the hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments found in serious,

The Author's Character

How much does the character of the author affect the work? Death and a Dictionary I recently read Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. The subtitle captivated my attention when I saw it on the clearance shelf and captures the essence of the book. It takes something that sounds quite boring and tedious (making a dictionary), combines it with crime thriller terms (you immediately think, “Wh

Franz Kafka: Physical Writing Process

Quartered Onionskin Paper & My Own Blue Notebooks There’s an episode fairly late in Kafka’s life, September 1917 to April 1918, when his tuberculosis manifested and he took sick leave from his office job to rest in the countryside at his sister’s rural house in Zurau. While staying there, Kafka began to write The Castle (one of my favorite novels) and he also composed a tiny book that no one saw until after he died. We now know that book as The Zurau Aphorisms (although Max B

Jonathan Franzen: Physical Writing Process

Destroy the Internet In a recent post I wrote, “I tend to type my novels directly into GoogleDocs so that they are constantly backed up on Google’s servers” and I realized that my writing process being so entwined with the internet is the exact opposite of Jonathan Franzen’s, who wrote (in his top ten rules for writing), “It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” The Time Magazine article “Jonathan Franzen: Great American