Electric Grandmother

Maggie Croft's Personal Journal young spirit, wire-wrapped
spark electric grandmother
arc against the night

-- Lon Prater
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kafka and carroll

When I was sixteen, I believe, I was introduced formally to Kafka. Like most things literary, it was my father's fault.

I adored (and still do, frankly) Kafka. Truly. Especially his short stories. I remember when Dad and I took a bunch of his books over to my Mormon grandmother's for her to read. (We were always bringing her things to read that the average Mormon ex-bishop's wife of her age in that town probably hadn't read. We once took her a complete set of Steinbeck to read... That must have been some couple of weeks for her.) In any event, she read Kafka and thought he was a pretty interesting fellow. I had to agree.

When I got to college, I was very, very alone. I knew very few people there and wasn't quite sure where I fit in. Not that I ever found the place where I did fit in exactly, bit I digress.

When I wasn't in class I spent a lot of time writing on my word processor my father had gotten me for graduation from high school, I read lots of books, I studied Russian, I thought, I dream, and I spent a lot of time in the library. The library had everything Kafka had ever written, including letters and journals. I had read his fiction -- I hadn't read his life.

Talk about something that opened the eyes of a young, naive, innocent eighteen-year-old small-town Idaho girl. And for all his potential faults, I loved him. I felt for him. And he took me away from my sweltering single dormroom (I would soon have a roommate) and sad, lonely life where I was really, truly alone. Except for Kafka. He kept me company on a lot of quiet nights.

* * *

I also love Jonathan Carroll, but I only discovered him very recently in the past few years. (Which is A Very Sad Thing, indeed.) And I love his blog. He writes about the most beautiful things -- seemingly ordinary on the outside, but once translated through his eyes, they become luminous, vibrant events. He warms my heart and helps me feel alive.

He recently included this story about Kafka:

"Near the end of his life, living in Berlin with his lover, Franz Kafka went for a walk in the park and saw a little girl crying. He asked her what the matter was, and she told him that she had lost her doll. Without missing a beat, Kafka assured the little girl that the doll wasn't lost, only traveling; Kafka knew this for a fact, he said, because the doll had written him a letter describing her journeys, which he promised to bring the girl the next day. Every day for three weeks, he brought the girl a new letter that he had spent much of the previous night composing, until she could no longer remember why she had been sad in the first place."

Jeff Turrentine

Yes, that's the Kafka I know. He would do something like that.

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