Monday, April 11, 2011
Blumfeld, An Elderly Bachelor
I also read "Flashback" by Gary Braver which seem to me to be a pretty standard run of the mill made for TV movie book about corporate greed in the pharmaceutical industry. It was better than anything I could write, but it was pretty predictable.
And I read "Aftershocks" by Richard S. Wheeler, about the immediate aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. That was a historical novel of sorts, and it followed the lives of 5 or 6 people, who for the most part, did not interact with each other so you had several stories going. I never knew that much about the 1906 earthquake, so this filled in a few holes. It was pretty good. There's so much I don't know. Lots of times when I read things it makes me want to learn more.
These books came from a thrift store, and I find myself temporarily without unread books about.
So, with a heavy heart, having nothing else to read, I picked up my copy of the complete stories of Franz Kafka, and chose a story more or less at random. "Blumfeld, An Elderly Bachelor" is 23 pages long, and as always, before I start a Kafka story I make my peace with the world. I ask myself if I want to suffer through 23 pages of something that will surely be odd, and maybe never make any sense. I don't really want to, but the curiosity is overwhelming. I know at some point I'm probably going to get lost, but each story loses me in a different way.
So Blumfeld, who lives alone, is trudging up the stairs to his apartment, thinking of all the reasons he doesn't want to own a dog. Most of these reasons have to do with cleanliness - shedding hair and such. When he gets to his apartment, he hears a noise, opens the door to find two balls bouncing in sync. One reaches it's height as the other hits the floor. I remember thinking - here it is, the point in the story (a couple of pages in) of Kafkian oddness. I had no idea that this story involved random bouncing balls. Balls bouncing for no apparent reason, and with no means of causation. Perpetual motion bouncing balls. The balls followed him around, keeping a certain distance away, and seem to have some sort of feelings. I left the story half way in, I expect to finish it up this evening. Blumfeld had managed by trickery to trap the balls in his wardrobe, and was trying to give them to the Charwoman's son, who seemed very dense and didn't quite understand. Now I wonder how the story will end, and what other twists will be coming in it, and if the bouncing balls will be explained. I seriously doubt it.
Think kind thoughts.