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2001-06-06

Franz Kafka
B. 7.3.1883 Prague / D. 6.3.1924 Vienna
Tuberculosis/Larynx (Starvation)

On the parched terre battue before three separate frenzied crowds at Roland Garros, my fantasy alter ego is unable to prevail against the inspired physical genius of Monica Seles. Again and again and again she loses 2 and 3 after long exhausting matches, the last two titanic. But she cannot beat Seles at the French; it’s as if she weren’t destined to do so. No wonder I’m exhausted. Say, did you hear about that royal family dinner the other night in Nepal? I think there ought to be lots more news coverage of family dinners everywhere, they’re so key.
When you mother breaks your heart open and you go to describe what she does to its contents, you shouldn’t say she’s like a jackal eating brains, because it isn’t nice—and you should see that it’s more like an Arab eating a melon anyway. It occurs to me that I really am trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle.
What is your favorite story about Franz Kafka? My favorite story about Franz Kafka is the one where he comes back from sick leave in 1918 and the company he works for has fired all the German directors so now he has to do everything in Czech, which is not his first language.
But he excels. Of course—my hero.
My f.s.a.F.K. is the Fletcherizing craze he inflicted on his family—the health fad, that is, which “required” him to chew each bite of food at least twelve times before swallowing. Try it sometime!

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