Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Why is he your favorite author?
Wendy asked me this question earlier today. I admit I never thought about it much before. I just thought it was enough that when I read Kafka, I know I am enjoying myself more than when I'm reading any other author.
But maybe it's not enough. After hemming and hawing for a few minutes I was able to come up with these reasons:
- I find his philosophy (that life is a series of obstacles with death as the ultimate goal) incredibly resonant and human
- His prose is neither overwritten nor underwritten, but just in between; exactly in the golden medium where all writing should be
- His stuff is funny (David Foster Wallace explains this better than I could in this essay
- He writes stories with messages, but never forces them on the reader; you're allowed to read into it whatever you want, or just take the story at face value
That was the best I could do. I could also throw out these reasons:
- His opening sentences are always strong and hook you right away
- His ability to find humor in futility is inspiring in a weird way
- His plots are totally original (for their time)
- The entire point of his writing is that life has no meaning except for what we create for ourselves; I agree with this
- He only wrote three unfinished novels and a bunch of short stories, making his catalog accessible and easy to collect
- His style (mundane presentation of extraordinary circumstances) was postmodern before there was that term
- The fact that he only wrote part-time and held down a crappy job until he died (despite being one of the most influential writers of the 20th century) fills me with respect, fear and hope
None of that seems to matter to me. All that matters is I know I can pick up The Judgment or The Trial or The Castle any time and be amused, astonished and disturbed all at the same time.
What are your reasons for holding one author in the highest esteem? Why is your favorite author your favorite author?