Friday, June 19, 2009

Yesterday, as I was making potato salad, my 11-year-old son started talking to me about why he likes to write fantasy stories. "You don't have to know all the details, like you do when you're describing a real place," he said, at which point I mentioned Kafka's novel Amerika, set in a fictional America. "Read me some of it," said my son, and my 14-year-old, flopped on the couch, concurred. So I paused in my potato-slicing operation, dug Amerika off the shelf, and started reading aloud.

It turns out that Kafka is excellent read-aloud material. Who would have thought? The boys find it extremely funny. They especially like the description of the Statue of Liberty's sword and all those surrealistic details that make adult readers feel like they're caught in a bad dream, like losing one's luggage and getting lost in the endless winding corridors of an ocean liner and opening a closet and finding a strange man living there.

Reading Kafka to my children was not exactly what I expected to be doing yesterday, but family life is always a surprise.

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