Neither Satire nor Spoof

How to categorise the work of Fritz Kakfa? Categories be damned: they are but cages created by lazy minds. And yet those writers who eternally evade them, who constantly squeeze between the bars – how can we not keep coming back to them, and wondering how it is they have avoided the inevitable branding that is such a feature of our age?

Back to Kakfa. Where do I stand on the crazy Czech writer? His career has been controversial to say the least. But even those disposed towards outsiders have struggled to take him to their hearts. What is his purpose? He appears to write nothing more than hackneyed modern-day versions of Franz Kafka stories. Sure, a certain charm lies in his protestations that the similarities between his work and Kafka’s are ‘a matter of sheer coincedence’, but no one buys this line anymore, do they? Once you get past the fact that he is a compulsive liar (albeit an entertaining one), what more is there? Is any of his work actually worth reading?

I remain unsure. Does Franz Kafka need updating? I think not. But Kakfa has done it all the same. And somewhere someone seems to have liked the results – or published them at any rate. In fact, Underneath the Bunker has re-published one of his stories, the infamous Super-Psychosis. You can read the first part here.

What must be said is this: Kakfa’s reworkings are neither satire nor spoof. Nor, I think, do they celebrate the work of their predecessor. What they do is something else entirely: something peculiar, if not pointless – but not so pointless that I can’t help myself returning to them, half-full of wonder, but bristling with suspicion.

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