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Some Minutes In Kafka’s World

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A couple of days ago, I wrote about finding a particular (and peculiar) edition of Kafka’s book, The Metamorphosis, in a bookstore. I went back yesterday to have another look. This is what happened.

Having seen this plain cover, hardback “The Metamorphosis”, I wanted to take another look, and track down the publisher. There had been ten or so copies left, and I assumed there would be no trouble in doing this.

However, when I started to search on the SALE table where I had seen it, there were none present. Odd enough in itself, but now, on the same table, there were a dozen different copies of ‘“The Metamorphosis”, still hardback but with a dust jacket. There was an image of Kafka (or, at least, a form all in black) modeled on one of the extant photos of him. There was also text: “What on earth has happened to me?” Across the top was the word METAMORPHOSIS and across the bottom was FRANZ KAFKA. The colour of the dust jacket was a blue/green.

I might – on the very outside of possibilities – had thought that all the copies I had seen previously would have been gone … but, I never envisioned a new set of different copies of the book.

I queries a clerk (who had not been present the previous day) about those other copies of Kafka.  All he could say was that the displays in the store had been changed the day before.

Yes, I even did go to look on the shelves (in addition to the display tables), to see if the plain Metamorphoses might be there. It was not. Nor any other books by Kafka, neither.

So, I wandered in my own version of Kafkaland for a few minutes, before I departed. And – of course – I was left thinking: had the original, plain books have their own metamorphosis into the new.

(image)http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0380/6785/products/TOTE-1021_franz-kafka_Totes_1_760x1000.jpg?v=1540350870

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(Original cover of The Metamorphoses)

Well … perhaps not the book. Most of what Kafka wrote was not published in his lifetime. Of course, most of what Kafka wrote did not survive his lifetime. It is estimated that be burned 60%-75% of all that he actually wrote.

But, one of the books he did have published was The Metamorphosis. He took such an interest in it that he made special requests about the cover art. He wished that the vermin into which Gregor Samsa turned, not be depicted on the cover. He was adamant about it.  His wish has not been kept over the decades, but there isn’t much you can do once you are dead.

This came to mind when, yesterday, I passed a book store offering various discounts and bargains. Three books for $16 – that sort of thing. And, a vast array of books, from Tom Sawyer to contemporary thrillers to scientific non-fiction.

But, on a prominent corner shelf, was a stack of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Hardback. Published last year in Britain. Going for $15. A plain, brown cover with no book jacket. Author and Title. That was it.

And, the thing is, I was tempted to buy it.

I imagine I have read the story ten to a dozen times. Over the years I have had three or four copies.  I am slowly divesting myself of more and more possessions. Yet, I gave it a good look-over. Clean pages. Easy to read. No cramped text. No illustrations.

It would have made Kafka proud.

 

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Book And Lyrics By Franz Kafka

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(Original cover of The Metamorphoses)

Well … perhaps not the book. Most of what Kafka wrote was not published in his lifetime. Of course, most of what Kafka wrote did not survive his lifetime. It is estimated that be burned 60%-75% of all that he actually wrote.

But, one of the books he did have published was The Metamorphosis. He took such an interest in it that he made special requests about the cover art. He wished that the vermin into which Gregor Samsa turned, not be depicted on the cover. He was adamant about it.  His wish has not been kept over the decades, but there isn’t much you can do once you are dead.

This came to mind when, yesterday, I passed a book store offering various discounts and bargains. Three books for $16 – that sort of thing. And, a vast array of books, from Tom Sawyer to contemporary thrillers to scientific non-fiction.

But, on a prominent corner shelf, was a stack of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Hardback. Published last year in Britain. Going for $15. A plain, brown cover with no book jacket. Author and Title. That was it.

And, the thing is, I was tempted to buy it.

I imagine I have read the story ten to a dozen times. Over the years I have had three or four copies.  I am slowly divesting myself of more and more possessions. Yet, I gave it a good look-over. Clean pages. Easy to read. No cramped text. No illustrations.

It would have made Kafka proud.

 

Book Blurb For Poetry Book Not Written

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Poetry From The Light Fixture is an illuminating book of verse from an electrifying author.

The poet in question is a questioning poet, quarrying for answers in the rich loam of Earth’s mysteries.

The instinct of a pollen-laden honeybee,

Coupled with the dynamic curiosity of a fluffy kitten,

Allow this poet to plumb the depths of inarticulate sensitivity,

And grant to us,

Grateful readers everywhere,

Proof positive that,

Yes,

Ideed,

Here is a mind that actually thinks.

(image) https://technical.sabhlokcity.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ceiling-light-4.jpg

You’re In The Army Now

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Bus rides do give one time to observe people – particularly a bus trip longer than one might want to take.

So, I had time on my hands to observe the fellow across the aisle. I’ll take a guess at early thirties, well-dressed, though well-dressed for travel on a bus. He had a fashionable pea coat, tailored jeans, and rugged dressy boots or dressy rugged boots. He was of slender but muscular build, with short hair and a chiseled face.  The man exuded military.

He had a neatly appointed carry bag for his food stuffs. It seemed each compartment had its own designation. There was one for sandwiches, one for granola bars, one for fruit. There was even a compartment for a slender, space age-looking thermos. I am not certain what it might have held.

When he used his iPhone, though I was too far away to actually read anything, I noted  the cycle of images he went through.  There was a deep red shield with a crest and wings; a large silver image of vertical slashing lightning bolts; and a photo of an almost-smiling attractive brunette. Whatever messages he sent seemed to consist of only a couple of lines of text, all done with his thumb.

About half way through the trip he took a book from another case. It was large enough to read the title across the aisle. It was “Merry Hell: The Story of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919” .

No, I wasn’t able to read all that from across the aisle, but a book search of key words led me to it a few minutes ago. And a fitting tale, think I, for a military chap.

When the bus reached its destination, he kindly indicated that I could precede him to disembark. For which I thanked him. And, as I waited to get my luggage, I saw him embraced – fulsomely – by the attractive brunette on his iPhone. A smiling brunette. An embrace he, as-fulsomely, returned.

 

 

Talking And Reading About The Elephant And God

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Tracked down to my own apartment, I give a sample reading from my book of short stories, “The Elephant Talks To God”. And I explain the genesis of the book. Gotta say, it might have been more entertaining to emote some of the Elephant’s poetry.

http://www.authorsaloud.com/prose/estey.html

The book:

From The Elephant Talks To God:

The elephant was a curious pachyderm, and followed his persistent quest with a guileless intensity.

“More lucky than smart,” said some of the other elephants, as he blundered his way toward another piece of knowledge. They nodded their heads in his direction with the heavy weight of caution, and warned their small ones that too much thought would make them strange.

“An elephant wades in water,” they would sagely say, “only if the mud hole is wide enough.”

And the little ones would watch him, as they stood between the legs of their parents, and wish that they could follow.

Author Interview And Reading

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Tracked down to my own apartment, I give a sample reading from my book of short stories, “The Elephant Talks To God”. And I explain the genesis of the book. Gotta say, it might have been more entertaining to emote some of the Elephant’s poetry.

http://www.authorsaloud.com/prose/estey.html

The book:

From The Elephant Talks To God:

The elephant was a curious pachyderm, and followed his persistent quest with a guileless intensity.

“More lucky than smart,” said some of the other elephants, as he blundered his way toward another piece of knowledge. They nodded their heads in his direction with the heavy weight of caution, and warned their small ones that too much thought would make them strange.

“An elephant wades in water,” they would sagely say, “only if the mud hole is wide enough.”

And the little ones would watch him, as they stood between the legs of their parents, and wish that they could follow.

Getting Published In New York In The Old Days

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Over The Transom

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 a 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.

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.

A Christmas Elephant Tale

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From: The Elephant Talks To God
The Elephant was not oblivious to the Christmas season, and wanted to pay his respects.

He travelled to the special clearing where a cloud waited for him.

“It’s your Son’s birthday. I want to congratulate him.”

“Thank you.” The cloud descended. “It is a grand time.”

“I’d like to …” the elephant hesitated.

“Yes.”

“You sent your Son for us to see, so we would believe.”

“Yes.”

“Well, I want to …”

“Spit it out,” said God. “You’re fired up.”

“I want to see you.” The elephant spoke quickly. “I don’t have to see you, you know that.  I believed even before you talked to me. But I want to see you; it would mean so much. I wasn’t around for the Baby, but cows and sheep and things got to see Him. I can’t explain, but …”

“Go home,” said the cloud.

“You’re not angry with me?” said the elephant.

“No.” The cloud started moving away. “It’s an honest request.”

“Thank you for coming to see me,” said the elephant.

“Sing some carols.” The voice was distant. “I like them.”

The elephant turned and started through the woods. He ignored the tasty leaves within easy reach and the rich grass near the brook. He wanted to get home as quickly as possible so he could join the singing at the Mission he knew was happening later in the evening.

He trotted along the trail, snapping a branch here and there in his haste, when he noted the stillness, the hush which had overtaken the forest. He slowed down and then stopped in his tracks. He turned his head, his small eyes squinting into the brush.
There was movement coming toward him, and when the trees parted, he went to his knees with a gasp.
Tears rolled from his eyes, and the golden trunk touched his own, and gently
wiped them away.

Fishing With God And The Elephant

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A story from The Elephant Talks To God

 

The elephant was on his side in the river, where he had flopped without much ceremony beside the boulder.

He raised his left front and his left hind leg into the air, and his trunk trailed in the current like an eel. He sloshed water over the exposed parts of his body with an erratic fortissimo.

“So.” The elephant gulped water. “Explain fish to me.”

“I beg your pardon.” The boulder sputtered, for it had been caught in the back spray.

“Fish,” said the elephant. “Marine animals; sub-aquatic creatures; denizens of the deep: puffers, scuppers, suckers, guppies, herring, flounder, anchovies — ”

“An elephant,” interrupted God, “has many attributes. But very low on this mammoth list is the ability to be cute.” The boulder paused significantly. “So get to the point.”

“When you’re ponderous, it’s known as being profound,” pointed out the elephant.

“I’m the Creator, so I get to make the rules,” pointed out God. “So. What is it with the fish?”

“Well – they’re so weird. They look strange, they’re poor conversationalists, they breath in water, and they choke on air.” The elephant finally scrambled to his feet. “And they never stay still. It’s always `moving with the current’, or `moving against the current’. I mean no disrespect, and we’re all God’s creatures, but – they’re real losers.”

“I wonder,” asked the boulder, after a moment’s thought, “if you’ve heard about the group of blind men asked to describe an elephant.”

“No,” said the elephant. “I haven’t.”

“Each man touched a different part.”

As God began, he raised his voice for the benefit of the fish, who were ranged in concentric circles around the oblivious elephant. They were going to enjoy this.

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