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June 2016

Kafka Sees His History In The Mirror [from: Kafka In The Castle]

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04 March 1917

I dreamed I was a prophet. The prophet Amshel, which is my Jewish name. And, I could talk to God. And I was looking at myself in the mirror.

And I was looking back at me. I mean, Franz was in the mirror, looking back at me – the me of Amshel – who was looking in the mirror. Except, I was as much me looking out, as I was me looking in.

The wall behind the prophet was painted red, while the one behind Franz was of brown wood. They both could raise their fists at each other, and sometimes did. In unison, of course. That was the law.

“Certainly, you may speak to God,” said Franz. “What is there in that? Everyone speaks to God – in sentences, in actions, with their lives. No one is more talked-to in the Universe than God. But what a prophet needs, is to have God speak back.”

And then God spoke, from somewhere behind the mirror, but He did not speak to Amshel. He spoke to Franz.

“You are on the wrong side,” said God.

“Speak to me,” said Amshel.

“Wrong side of what?” asked Franz.

“Of the mirror,” answered God.

“Don’t speak to him,” shouted Amshel. “He is from the world of vipers.”

And Amshel raised his fist, but Franz had to hold up his fist in turn.

“I am not the prophet you seek,” said Franz, and pointed his finger at the mirror. “There is your prophet.”

And Amshel was also pointing toward the glass. “Not him – you don’t want him.” He then turned his hand toward himself. “I’m the one you want.”

But Franz was just as vehement, as his thumb arched toward his own chest. “Not me.” For emphasis, he placed his hand over his heart. “In this, God, you have erred.”

And his words echoed those of Amshel, who also had his hand upon his heart. “In this, God, you have erred.”

And the two faces stared at one another, their fingers clutching at the garments they wore.

But God was silent.

DE

(image) http://www.enidhuttgallery.com/images/_lib/angelo-decorative-corner-silver-leaf-bevelled-mirror-deknudt-mirrors-9166-0-1430262718000.jpg

Kafka Sweeps Away Dust, Gold And War [from: Kafka In The Castle]

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27 November 1916

Should I comment upon my unique and strange surroundings – this tiny house of Ottla’s. Not shared with a fiancée, but a sister. This place would not do for Felice, it is too small and too spare and too far from the heart of the city. But I feel secure against the winter. Up here in the castle.

As with all the tiny houses on Alchemist Lane, this one has its history of the quest for gold. Thus I fit right in, for I am after such purity.

 

17 December 1916

Although Ottla seems content with just her Sunday afternoons in this tiny house, I was careful to make certain no one was here before I entered. Since the Alchemist Lane ends in a stone wall, all who enter have to return the way they came. How awkward. Ottla would just smile and ask after my health, it is I who would look at my feet. My love affair of letters would blush on such sure ground. But, we did not pass.

This place is of course a fantasy, a burrow in which to hide through these winter months. It’s barely big enough to bury a man properly, yet before Ottla moved in, a family of eleven crammed their lives into it. Knowing how fortunate I am in this world never seems to help in mine. I thought I might leave both worlds, with the help of the army. Friends and family have told me how grateful I should be that I am unable to join. My official dispensation because I am indispensable to the bureaucracy of the Empire. F. looked upon me in disbelief when I told her I would try again to enlist. Perhaps I can gather the spirits of the necromancers who have lived on this lane to assist me.

 

18 December 1916

I could, with my broom, sweep away the glory of war. It is less than the dust of this tiny house.

DE

(image) http://www.remodelista.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/objects-of-use-chinese-broom-Remodelista-518×600.jpg

Franz Kafka Turns Words To Gold On The Golden Lane

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[Kafka’s house on The Golden Lane]

A burrow offers security and comfort.  Kafka found both in his sister’s tiny house on the Golden Lane.

The Golden Lane is a narrow, dead-end yet massively historic lane, hugging an interior wall of the huge Prague Castle. Centuries ago the small buildings along the lane housed workers of the Castle, including some resident alchemists. Thus the name.

Ottla – Kafka’s sister – had rented it so she could spend time with her lover, and not be bothered by parents and comments. Her lover was not only a Christian, but he was soon going to leave to fight in World War I. Time was precious. However, she rarely had opportunities to use it other than the weekends, so she offered Franz the use of the tiny house for most of the time. And use it he did, though he never stayed the night.

Through fall, winter and spring Kafka wrote a whole book of short stories there. For a single block of time, it was one of his most creative periods.

When I visited, under the Communist rule of the time, it had been converted to a book store. Of course (which he would have appreciated) there were no books by Kafka for sale. Today he is displayed in the windows.

It was only when I went thorough the small rooms, and looked out the window into The Stag Moat, that I realized how important the house would become in Kafka In The Castle, my novel about Kafka. It was cozy – even with the space cramped by tourists. It had been little altered. I could easily imagine Kafka looking through the same glass and walking through the same doorways. No doubt stooping because he was tall. Research met reality.

One of the last stories Kafka wrote, during his final year in Berlin, was called The Burrow. A version exists and is published, though a longer version is supposed to be among his ‘missing’ papers. In it a tiny animal keeps incessantly burrowing to keep away from an enemy. A vague noise convinces the animal to burrow deeper. Yup – that’s Kafka.

DE

(image) https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2645/3848764367_a7b9e65ed5_o.jpg

A Dream Of Death After Life [from: Kafka In The Castle]

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21 March 1917

Dreamed I was standing in a galleria with him. In a town in Northern Italy. We could see across the rooftops, to a plain slipping gently toward the foothills of the mountains. The day was clear – a cool spring morning – and the touch of sun was welcome on our skin.

He pointed to a laden waggon passing beneath us. A curtain of dust rose from its wheels as it squeezed through a narrow lane. We watched it for awhile, then he turned to me, his body a silhouette against the vivid sky.

“I enjoyed my funeral. I wish we could have talked about it after – it was one of those things to share.”

“We did share it,” I pointed out. “I was there.”

“But I was not,” he said.

Then he eased himself over the balcony, and without effort, we were sitting in the back of the waggon, perched upon boxes and equipment. We rattled out of the village toward the countryside.

“I loved the outdoors,” he said. “I still remember my last walk in the fields.”

We moved slowly through the country side, the waggon rarely being jostled along the rutted road. The teamster must have been an expert, but he never turned his face to us. Intent upon his business, I suppose.

“You forget that I am dead; for which I thank you.”

“Sometimes I do,” I replied.

“It is at those times, I sometimes think I’m still alive.”

He occasionally pointed to things behind me. Once there was a rabbit. The countryside spread endlessly, without another person in sight. I mentioned this, and he nodded.

“It will be crowded at our destination. But I’ll want to meet my wife.” He then leaned toward me, across the waggon. “You helped me, you know – in our final dance.” He smiled, then sighed, then pointed beneath me.   “My destination is close, I must return.”

I looked down, and saw I was sitting on a coffin – the polished brown one of his funeral. I moved, then bent over, prepared to open it. His fingers touched the wood beneath my hand.

“No. Do not look. You would not like what you found.” His smile seemed forced, there were more teeth showing than usual. “I embrace my new world. But for you, I am well and truly dead.”

DE

(image) http://whitesauctions.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/WAGON2.344181058_std.jpg

Kafka And His Father Have An Understanding [from: Kafka In The Castle]

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01 January 1917

There was a cloud caught in the branches of a tree today, outside my parents home.

Or so it appeared.

I got up from the cot and went to tell Ottla, but she was clearing the kitchen, tending to the dishes. So I was radical, unthinking – driven by haste – and told the only one not consumed by labour. I told my father.

“In the trees?” he asked.

I propelled him from his chair, thrusting the papers aside. He followed me, and I could see the surprise on his face.

“Where?” he asked; and I pointed out the window.

“But I see nothing.”

“Oh, you have to lie on the cot.”

“On the cot?”

“And with your head just so.” I pushed him onto it, and he lay, looking sideways.

“But you are right,” he said.

I thought because of the holiday he might be humouring me, but then I saw that his jaw hung open, and his face was astonished.

Does the boy never grow, that he can feel so good to be vindicated by his father?

DE

Eating Out In New York – Free Entertainment With Roller Skates

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My friend, Google tells me that “over the transom” is still a viable term. In this case it refers to a manuscript accepted by an editor submitted cold – perhaps even from the dreaded slush pile.

At any rate, my manuscript for A Lost Tale was accepted “over the transom”, and I was asked to New York to meet the editor. Although I had experienced and appreciated Montréal, Toronto, London, Berlin and other large cities by that time, I had not been to New York. Many events of that trip are memorable, but none more than my “lunch” with the editor.

The editor took me to some dark and trendy place for a late lunch. There were not many people there and, restaurant fiend though I am, the food was not my top priority. Discussion of “the work” and proposed changes was more on the menu for me.

However, as I sit across the table from my editor, I can not help but notice a man seated by himself beside the wall. He is tieless and shirtless and, though the lighting is dim, what there is reflects from his naked skin. He sits with a beverage and seems to hum to himself. My editor is discussing both the menu and some confusion he perceives at the beginning of my novel. I note items on the menu unknown to me and am doubly confused.

The shirtless man at the other table increases the volume of his humming and eventually a waiter goes to him and has words. The shirtless man has words back, but they sound like gibberish. At my table the editor suggests something from the menu and I happily comply. There is wine.

Whilst I eat and listen to suggestions, the shirtless man is spoken to by two other waiters. As I (wisely) restrict myself to a second glass of wine, two uniformed policemen enter the restaurant and approach the shirtless man, whose gibberish had increased even more in volume. In the course of a few minutes three other uniformed police officers – one of them female  – arrive on the scene. They are now ranged around the shirtless man and his table. I finally tell my editor what is happening behind him and why I am not concentrating fully upon his suggestions. He turns around.

Two of the officers remove the table from in front of the shirtless man. Two others, one on each side of him, haul him to his feet. It is then that we see his shirtless state continues all the way to his naked feet. The female officer takes the tablecloth from the table and drapes it around him. The four male officers form a circle around the naked, shrouded man uttering his gibberish, and hustle him from the restaurant. The female officer picks up what appears to be a pile of clothes from beneath the table, and a pair of roller skates, and follows them.

I say to my editor that I have never seen anything like that.

My editor concurs.

DE

(image) http://g02.a.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1FsWuKFXXXXcrXXXXq6xXFXXXD/-font-b-Black-b-font-adult-double-font-b-roller-b-font-font-b-skates.jpg

Author Interviewed About Elephant And Writing

Dale Estey – The Elephant Talks to God

by

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

The Elephant Talks to God is a book of short stories where my Elephant takes his queries and comments directly to God. God not only listens (as God does to us all) but enters into conversation with the Elephant, answering his questions. The stories eventually ended because the Elephant began asking questions the author could not answer. This book is not typical of my novels, the first being a Fantasy set in World War Two and published on two continents, the second a Thriller leading to my first translated work.

Tell us about yourself.

I am from Atlantic Canada, where I have lived all my life. My mother was a British War Bride and my father came from United Empire Loyalist stock. The Estey ancestry goes back to medieval Italy and the House of D’Este. I am interested in, and directed by, all this heritage. I have been writing for over thirty years.

What inspired you to write this book?

My mother gave me an elephant figurine as part of a Christmas gift. While struggling for a subject for a short story, I looked around my room and stopped at the elephant. It was to be a one-off story. The Elephant (and God) had other ideas.

How did you choose the title?

I wanted the most straight-forward title of such a weighty character and subject matter.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I had no interest in writing, books, reading or any of the arts until Grade Eleven. Within the space of a week (for no obvious reason – I say that God cuffed me on the back of the head) I started writing “funny” short articles. The first of them which I remember (and it may indeed be the first) was about a classroom pencil sharpener which chewed up my pencil. I would do one or two of these funny articles a month. They started to get published in the regional newspaper, The Daily Gleaner.

Do you have any writing rituals?

My writing rituals slide around and some disappear over the years. The bulk of my manuscripts are done long hand with a BIC black ink pen. I usually write in the morning. I use binders and write on alternate lines on both sides of the page. I do now write thriller/adventure books on the computer, for I find that medium enhances the speed of such stories.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

When stuck for a character’s name, I go to a Gazetteer. Most of the time the character appears with name intact. I have three novel manuscripts where the central character has no name but just initials.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

Every day I write I learn something about writing. The Elephant showed me I can sustain humour.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I know what I should have done differently, but I doubt I would do it. I would have concentrated more on the career aspect, promotion and name recognition. But that might mean I would have written one less novel. Not worth the trade-off.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I prefer reading books where all the elements (character, plot, description, philosophy) blend seamlessly. Writers whom I enjoy who accomplish this are John le Carré, Thomas Mann, Thomas Hardy, Mavis Gallant, Alan Bennett, Robert Hass, Alice Munro, Saul Bellow.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I am working on a thriller centred around NATO. Internet chicanery is at the core of the intricate plot. One central character is a guard/attack dog named Louie. His name came from a real dog I heard being called to in a dog park. Louie is a Cane Corso.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

*BEST* advice for a writer – write regularly. Work time into a schedule to make it possible to write a number of times a week – same time/same place if possible. Publishing venues are so broad these days that it is best to take a long time and study them all. Then chose an avenue that is comfortable (and understandable).

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Perfection is over-rated. Enter my books and you won’t be disappointed.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

http://DaleEstey.com

Amazon.com

http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Elephant_Talks_to_God.html?id=Cj5sAAAACAAJ

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000411133160

http://twitter.com/#!/DaleEstey

Interview at:

http://www.sellingbooks.com/

Goose Lane Editions

An Elephant in search of answers.

Source: Goose Lane Editions

A Door To Open / A Guest To Greet

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The first claw was so faint upon the door he barely raised an eye from the page. It could have been the wind – it sounded almost like the wind. Wind at other time,s and in other places, might blow such a sound – but not this night. As his thoughts returned to what lay before him, the tiny scrabble, hesitant at floor level, moved slightly to the right, aligning itself more closely to the doorknob.

 ****

The noise skittered up the wood, almost a metallic sound. His head swivelled toward the door.  The first thought he had was for the paint. Then he could sense, by the sound alone, the movement was groping in the dark, that it was unsure of where it was. He closed the book on his lap, still keeping his place with a finger. His eyes remained fixed on the door. He thought he saw the light of his lamp glint off something through the keyhole.

  ****

The doorknob twitched, a slight movement counterclockwise.  Then a brief turn clockwise. He let the book slide down the side of his chair as he put his hand into a pocket. He felt the key between his fingers. He held it tightly. There was more fumbling with the knob, muffled sounds as if a grip was hard to get. The knob turned once more, and then the pressure on the outside was released. He could hear shuffling against the wood. Then he saw, through the keyhole, light reflecting off a muddy iris.

  ****

He stared back through the keyhole, only to see the eye blink and move slowly away. He started to rise from his chair, but was stopped by a thump near the floor, as if a clumsy foot had bumped the wood by mistake. He realised that all the sounds he heard seemed fuddled and uncoordinated. The doorknob was once again twisted, but the motion seemed to lack an ability to grasp. He was wondering whether to turn out the lamp, when a hesitant, hollow knock came upon the door.

(image) http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/blue-door-keyhole-27445.jpg

DE

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