10 thoughts on “Former People Speak: Trauma

  1. I listened to the discussion.

    I read a lot, but many of the authors you mentioned aren’t among those I’ve read. I’ve never gotten to Nabokov. I have read a little bit of Ballard, such as The Atrocity Exhibit and some other work by him that I forget the title. Of course, I’m very familiar with Kafka, as familiar with is non-fiction as his fiction.

    My reading is wide-ranging, although largely haphazard. I’ve read some classic English authors such as Hardy and Hesse, neither of which do I recall you having discussed in the video. Most of the genre writers and more obscure small press writers I’ve read also weren’t part of the discussion. For example, I don’t think any of the philosophical horror writers were mentioned.

    Was there a reason you two discussed the particular books you did? Or was it simply the authors you both shared familiarity with?

    The one author I’ve wondered about quite a bit is David Foster Wallace. For years, I meant to read him because of his reputation. I finally bought a bunch of his books and sampled from them, especially his essays. I must admit for the most part I couldn’t get into his style. It often seemed like a lot of work for little reward. But obviously other people love his writing. I’ve wondered if there is something I’m missing that truly does make him one of the greatest writers, as some claim.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the discussion. I particularly appreciated the part on Kafka.

    I’ve heard a lot about the difficulty of translating him. Even those who know the language struggle because of the odd linguistic niche of when and where he lived. I have been fascinated by the other side of Kafka that most people miss. I’ve come across that Kafka would laugh during his readings of his own work. I think Ursula K. Le Guin mentions that her aunt went to a public reading by Kafka where he laughed.

    I came to understand Kafka better by reading his non-fiction. My favorite writings of his are his Blue Octavo Notebooks. It offers a glimpse into his thoughts on life, in his more philosophical mode.

    • “I’ve wondered if there is something I’m missing that truly does make him one of the greatest writers, as some claim.”

      I think his moments when he is sincere, he is actually really great, but that is more in essays than fiction. He keeps layering and hiding his sincerity.

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