Kafka’s Dad

Vermont may have a lot of sub-par weather (not now – these days have been about as perfect as possible), but at least we have no cockroaches. Early mornings, when a mouse occasionally shows its whiskers as I’m making coffee, still deep enough in the night to be in the nocturnal realm, I think of Gregor Samsa’s scuttling.

Telling my daughters this story, they both say, What? They’re truly mystified. He wrote about a giant cockroach? It’s a little hard to explain this one, and perhaps even harder to explain my decided affection for this strange story.

This morning, reading Kafka’s long letter to his father, I think, Poor Kafka.

You have a particularly beautiful, very rare way of quietly, contentedly approvingly smiling, a way of smiling that can make the person for whom it is meant entirely happy…. Yet in the long run even such friendly impressions brought about nothing but an increased sense of guilt, making the world still more incomprehensible to me.

It’s the incomprehensible word that catches at me in this painful letter. Poor Kafka. No wonder the cockroach vision.

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