Cover image for Kafka Americana
Title:
Kafka Americana
Author:
Lethem, Jonathan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Burton, MI : Subterranean Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
100 pages ; 21 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Blumfeld, an elderly bachelor / Carter Scholz -- The notebooks of Bob K. / Jonathan Lethem -- Receding horizon / Jonathan Lethem & Carter Scholz -- The amount to carry / Carter Scholz -- K for fake / Jonathan Lethem.
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781892284440

9781892284433
Format :
Book

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PS3562.E8544 K34 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

In an act of literary appropriation by turns witty, affectionate, and shameless, Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz seize a helpless Franz Kafka by the lapels and thrust him into the cultural wreckage of twentieth-century America. In the collaboratively written "Receding Horizon," Hollywood welcomes Kafka as a scriptwriter for Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, with appropriately morbid results. Scholz's "The Amount to Carry" transports "the legal secretary of the Workman's Accident Insurance Institute" to a professional conference with fellow insurance executives Wallace Stevens and Charles Ives, for a night of musing on what can and can't be insured. And Lethem's "K for Fake" brings together Orson Welles, Jerry Lewis, and Rod Serling in a kangaroo trial where Kafka faces, needless to say, fraudulent charges. Taking Modernism's presiding genius for a literary joyride, the authors portray an absurd, ominous world that Kafka might have invented but could never have survived. Book jacket.


Summary

In an act of literary appropriation by turns witty, affectionate, and shameless, Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz seize a helpless Franz Kafka by the lapels and thrust him into the cultural wreckage of twentieth-century America. In the collaboratively written "Receding Horizon," Hollywood welcomes Kafka as a scriptwriter for Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, with appropriately morbid results. Scholz's "The Amount to Carry" transports "the legal secretary of the Workman's Accident Insurance Institute" to a professional conference with fellow insurance executives Wallace Stevens and Charles Ives, for a night of musing on what can and can't be insured. And Lethem's "K for Fake" brings together Orson Welles, Jerry Lewis, and Rod Serling in a kangaroo trial where Kafka faces, needless to say, fraudulent charges. Taking Modernism's presiding genius for a literary joyride, the authors portray an absurd, ominous world that Kafka might have invented but could never have survived. Book jacket.


Author Notes

Jonathan Lethem was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 19, 1964. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music was published in 1994. His other works include As She Climbed across the Table (1997), Amnesia Moon (1995), The Fortress of Solitude (2003), You Don't Love Me Yet (2007), Chronic City (2009), and Dissident Gardens (2013). He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Motherless Brooklyn (1999). He also writes short stories, comics and essays. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Rolling Stone, Esquire, The New York Times, The Paris Review, McSweeney's and other periodicals and anthologies.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Jonathan Lethem was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 19, 1964. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music was published in 1994. His other works include As She Climbed across the Table (1997), Amnesia Moon (1995), The Fortress of Solitude (2003), You Don't Love Me Yet (2007), Chronic City (2009), and Dissident Gardens (2013). He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Motherless Brooklyn (1999). He also writes short stories, comics and essays. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Rolling Stone, Esquire, The New York Times, The Paris Review, McSweeney's and other periodicals and anthologies.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kafka is not only an icon of disquiet, but a symbol of writerly dedication, the patron saint of tortured scribes everywhere. Thus, the very funny spoofs and "alternate" Kafkas presented in this short collection by Lethem and Scholz are inspired by affection. Perhaps the funniest of the group is Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn) and Scholz's collaboration, "Receding Horizons," in which Kafka comes to America, changes his name to Jack Dawson and writes screenplays. After his death, one of the directors he worked for, Frank Capra, wants to make Dawson's "The Judgment" into a film. Capra hires Clifford Odets, who believes that the hero's name, Aussenhof, won't go over for an American audience. Aussenhof means outer court, which is what the English call a bailey, so the character is called "George Bailey," and suddenly, a Kafka short story is transformed, with mad logic, into It's a Wonderful Life. In the "Notebooks of Bob K.," Lethem turns Batman into a Kafka hero, and mutates various of Kafka's famous aphorisms into Batman-related sayings. Orson Welles makes an appearance in Lethem's "K for Fake," which riffs on The Trial and features a man, like Joseph K in the novel, who gets a phone call informing him that charges have been prepared against him. This K being American, however, he immediately ascribes the call to a mixup with the credit card company, because he knows he isn't over his charge limit. The story follows the outlines of The Trial at a culturally dissonant distance. These stories are fluff, but extremely witty and intelligent fluffÄmaking them a lot more solid than some more ostensibly serious writing. (Jan.) FYI: Kafka Americana will also be issued in a limited deluxe signed edition of 600 copies. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Publisher's Weekly Review

Kafka is not only an icon of disquiet, but a symbol of writerly dedication, the patron saint of tortured scribes everywhere. Thus, the very funny spoofs and "alternate" Kafkas presented in this short collection by Lethem and Scholz are inspired by affection. Perhaps the funniest of the group is Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn) and Scholz's collaboration, "Receding Horizons," in which Kafka comes to America, changes his name to Jack Dawson and writes screenplays. After his death, one of the directors he worked for, Frank Capra, wants to make Dawson's "The Judgment" into a film. Capra hires Clifford Odets, who believes that the hero's name, Aussenhof, won't go over for an American audience. Aussenhof means outer court, which is what the English call a bailey, so the character is called "George Bailey," and suddenly, a Kafka short story is transformed, with mad logic, into It's a Wonderful Life. In the "Notebooks of Bob K.," Lethem turns Batman into a Kafka hero, and mutates various of Kafka's famous aphorisms into Batman-related sayings. Orson Welles makes an appearance in Lethem's "K for Fake," which riffs on The Trial and features a man, like Joseph K in the novel, who gets a phone call informing him that charges have been prepared against him. This K being American, however, he immediately ascribes the call to a mixup with the credit card company, because he knows he isn't over his charge limit. The story follows the outlines of The Trial at a culturally dissonant distance. These stories are fluff, but extremely witty and intelligent fluffÄmaking them a lot more solid than some more ostensibly serious writing. (Jan.) FYI: Kafka Americana will also be issued in a limited deluxe signed edition of 600 copies. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Table of Contents

Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelorp. 3
The Notebooks of Bob K.p. 16
Receding Horizonp. 23
The Amount to Carryp. 51
K for Fakep. 79
Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelorp. 3
The Notebooks of Bob K.p. 16
Receding Horizonp. 23
The Amount to Carryp. 51
K for Fakep. 79