Kafka Memories

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” ~Franz Kafka (Book: Letters to Friends, Family and Editors

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Our dear Franz. Not many read him anymore, unless in some far-away lit class. I wonder if The Metamorphosis is still taught. I recall that he wrote some small piece about us wanting to be a wild Indian. I thought of it one way and was so moved by it, long ago. How we all want to be a wild Indian, riding on that horse across the prairie. When I looked it up some time ago, it was not the same. Of course my memory was better. But what had set the imagination in play was the original.

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