December 5, 2011 |
Franz Kafka hardly conjures a light, romantic image. But a summer tour of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic highlights the love affair between the author and the little-known Dora Diamant. The story unfolds in the streets of Prague, Czech Republic, where the German author was born, moves to the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, Poland, where Diamant organized plays and ends in Berlin, where the couple lived the Bohemian life in the early 1920s. Kathi Diamant (no relation), who wrote the book "Kafka's Last Love" and heads the Kafka Project at San Diego State University, leads the Magical Mystery Literary History Tour that includes meeting with Kafka scholars and descendants of Dora Diamont too. Proceeds from the trip support the nonprofit Kafka Project, which seeks to recover lost letters, journals and notebooks by the author.
December 5, 2010 |
The King of Kahel Tierno Monénembo, translated from the French Nicholas Elliott Amazon Crossing: 289 pp., $13.95 paper It's "The Little Prince" with a hint of "Curious George" and a smidgen of "Gulliver's Travels. " Based on the real life of 19th century explorer Olivier de Sanderval, this novel travels outward from the dreams of an 8-year-old boy who would be king. When he gets old enough to make his dreams reality, Olivier departs, at age 40 in 1879, from the port of Marseille, France, to colonize his corner of Africa, Fouta Djallon.
July 18, 2010 |
Meeks A novel Julia Holmes Small Beer Press: 190 pp., $16 paper The meek shall inherit the earth, the Bible tells us, but all they get in Julia Holmes' debut novel, "Meeks," is a life of grim servitude. Set in an allegorical city-state that could be any Western nation with a taste for warfare, statuary and civic-minded totalitarianism, "Meeks" is a prayer for the doomed that reads like a comedy. The hero of this land is one Captain Meeks, whose statue presides over the park where the annual Founders Play takes place.
December 28, 2008 |
It's always tricky when an author's name becomes an adjective. Orwellian, Machiavellian, Faulknerian -- these designations make it hard to see a writer on his or her own terms. This is perhaps most true of Franz Kafka, whose sobriquet, Kafkaesque, has become a catchall for the weird and inexplicable. Yet 84 years after his death of tuberculosis at age 40, Kafka continues to defy such simplifications, to force us to consider him anew.
November 20, 2008 |
May we please stop obsessing over the hypoallergenic first puppy and change the subject to something deep, spiritual, life-changing? Like detergent. Sunday night, President-elect Barack Obama, appearing with his wife, Michelle, on "60 Minutes," spoke of household chores. He doesn't, he admitted, volunteer to wash dishes, but he washes them. And when he does, he said, he tries to use that as therapeutic practice, to find something soothing in the discipline.
January 9, 2007 |
Ever claustrophobic, Kafka could not stomach big words. "If uttered by a young woman, breathlessly," the marvelous Italian writer Roberto Calasso notes in his magisterial recent study of the writer, "he had the impression that they emerged 'like fat mice from her little mouth.' " That image alone should be enough to scare composers away from setting Kafka texts, what with music's fondness for fattening every syllable.