Could That Be Kafka?

March 13, 2016 | 3 books mentioned 3

“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.

is an intern for The Millions. He reads and resides in North Carolina. Brian can be found on Twitter @jbetling, and in the real world behind the counter of Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC.


  1. Or, you can scratch out some Mouse Noir. Back in 2008, our office had a mouse running the halls for several weeks, who we named “Mickey.” Poor Mickey eventually ended his life in a trap – a cruel green contraption filled with cheese, set out by a janitor with the soul of a born hunter.

    Being very silly people, we had a brief ceremony in his honor, for which I wrote the eulogy. Alas, Poor Rodent.

    One Dead Mouse

    The years hadn’t been kind to Mickey. He spent his last few breadcrumbs on a greyhound bus from Winchester, Virginia, and rode it until the end. Washington DC. Found a flop at a construction site in Northwest. Briefly ruled as King Rodent of a pack of ferals holed up under the Walgrens drug store.

    The weather was mild, trash plentiful, with little to do but make love and eat.
    It didn’t last. The weather turned cold, and the streets were clean again. Too clean. Not a crumb in sight.

    Mickey was toppled from the head of the Walgren pack by a younger, leaner mouser who resented his crazy power over their women. Wounded, blind in one eye, he dragged himself down, down, down the underground streets. He finally came up for air again. The halls were quiet here, the smell papery and clean. Here, he could find peace.

    He found a small green house on a side alleyway and settled in to enjoy retirement. One day, he became strangely tired. Couldn’t keep down his chow. Queer twitchy whiskers.

    I’ll just close my eyes for a minute. Maybe… Then…

    His rotting corpse was discovered several days later. Nothing new. Just one more dead mouse.

  2. Above is not meant to be frivolous and flippant disregard for poor Mr. Kafka. My heart goes out to such a sensitive soul in this cruel world. It is just a piece of silliness to distract me from my existential dread whist helplessly witnessing the current political landscape, and dreading the hot summer convention season. Jiminy Crickets!

    Moe Murph

  3. @Moe — enjoyed your noir pastiche! whatever it takes to not have to think about elections is okay with me

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