“What a horrible silent noisy people they are … My feeling toward those mice is flat-out fear. It has to do with the unexpected, unbidden, unavoidable, virtually silent, persistent, ulteriorly motivated appearance of these animals.” It looks like Franz Kafka really didn’t like mice. Reiner Stach, author of the definitive two-part biography of Kafka (The Decisive Years and The Years of Insight) has released a new book of Kafka ephemera called Is That Kafka? 99 Finds full of fascinating facts that never found a place in the biographies at large. This Millions review of Stach’s biographies might also suit your Kafka fancy.
Guernica interviews Meghan Daum about The Little House on the Prairie, finding a home in Los Angeles and the necessity of restructuring the conversation about children. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen's review of her essay collection The Unspeakable and Edan Lepucki's take on Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids.
It goes without saying that Hitler is a taboo subject in Germany, which is why it’s remarkable that a German novelist, Timur Vermes, has caused a sensation with his book about a time-travelling Fuhrer. In the Times, Janet Maslin reviews the first English translation of Look Who's Back. You could also read Merve Emre on Ben Urwand’s book about Hollywood and the Nazis.
If you have a blog, you’ve probably fielded suggestions from your relatives about what you should write, who you should write about and what personal issues you should address in your posts. At The Hairpin, Michelle Markowitz shares a conversation with her mother on the subject.
"Whatever the facts of her life – whether she turned out to be an ancient man living in the Icelandic interior or a woman waiting tables at a Texan diner – Ferrante writes in an autobiographical mode. That is fuel for the truthers, a sort of literary ankle-flashing. But it is also good cover for another motive: a very contemporary form of envy of another’s autonomous space and their creativity, a rage that while they give us their work, they will not also give us their person." On a new collection of Elena Ferrante's letters, interviews and short pieces.
Jonathan Lee, whose novel High Dive was published this week, writes about the “deep disquiet” of finishing your book. “There are lots of books on how to write, and lots of books on how to publish, but I’ve spent the last few weeks looking for a book with a title like How To Get Through The Period Between Finishing A Book and Seeing It In A Bookstore Without Losing Your Entire Grip on Reality. I have failed to find it.”