Slogging through Stach’s three-volume biographical opus of Franza Kafka has been a rough endeavor at times. Reading just one of the finds in this collection however, ignites my desire to lock myself in the bedroom -- just like Kafka might, and read until sunrise. Stach’s “finds” are some of his favorite anecdotes and oddities discovered in the process of writing his 1,500-page biography of this ghostly literary figure. You’ll learn that Kafka distrusted doctors and the medical establishment, loved beer, admired slapstick comedy, and a lot more! These pieces chip away at the monolithic dark Kafka, revealing the real person he was -- albeit a little out of focus, just like his stories and aphorisms. This one is perfect to be read in small snippets or binged straight through to the end.— Jeremy
In the course of compiling his highly acclaimed three-volume biography of Kafka, while foraying to libraries and archives from Prague to Israel, Reiner Stach made one astounding discovery after another: unexpected photographs, inconsistencies in handwritten texts, excerpts from letters, and testimonies from Kafka's contemporaries that shed surprising light on his personality and his writing. Is that Kafka? presents the crystal granules of the real Kafka: he couldn't lie, but he tried to cheat on his high-school exams; bitten by the fitness fad, he avidly followed the regime of a Danish exercise guru; he drew beautifully; he loved beer; he read biographies voraciously; he made the most beautiful presents, especially for children; odd things made him cry or made him furious; he adored slapstick. Every discovery by Stach turns on its head the stereotypical version of the tortured neurotic--and as each one chips away at the monolithic dark Kafka, the keynote, of all things, becomes laughter.
For Is that Kafka? Stach has assembled 99 of his most exciting discoveries, culling the choicest, most entertaining bits, and adding his knowledge-able commentaries. Illustrated with dozens of previously unknown images, this volume is a singular literary pleasure.