Book Journal: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Metamorphosis

Book Journal: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Read on April 29 2017

I absolutely loved this book: the title, characters, transformation they all go through as a family after Gregor’s illness which transforms him from a useful bread winner to a burden to the family.

I can easily picture the whole flat where this story takes place (I just need to reorganise the furniture a wee bit, that’s all), Mr Samsa’s polished gold buttons, even the swishing sound Mrs Samsa’s skirt makes. Not many authors can paint a vivid picture like this.

Here’s some of my favourite lines from the book:
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.

Was he an animal, that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for were coming to light.

He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone.

What a fate: to be condemned to work for a firm where the slightest negligence at once gave rise to the gravest suspicion! Were all the employees nothing but a bunch of scoundrels, was there not among them one single loyal devoted man who, had he wasted only an hour or so of the firm’s time in the morning, was so tormented by conscience as to be driven out of his mind and actually incapable of leaving his bed?

But Gregor understood easily that it was not only consideration for him which prevented their moving, for he could easily have been transported in a suitable crate with a few air holes; what mainly prevented the family from moving was their complete hopelessness and the thought that they had been struck by a misfortune as none of their relatives and acquaintances had ever been hit.

The door could not be heard slamming; they had probably left it open, as is the custom in homes where a great misfortune has occurred.

I only fear danger where I want to fear it.

If I didn’t have my parents to think about I’d have given in my notice a long time ago, I’d have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything I would, let him know just what I feel. He’d fall right off his desk! And it’s a funny sort of business to be sitting up there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there, especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is hard of hearing.

His biggest misgiving came from his concern about the loud crash that was bound to occur and would probably create, if not terror, at least anxiety behind all the doors. But that would have to be risked.

However, Gregor had become much calmer. All right, people did not understand his words any more, although they seemed clear enough to him, clearer than previously, perhaps because had gotten used to them”

Then his head sank to the floor of its own accord and from his nostrils came the last faint flicker of his breath.

Gregor’s serious wound, from which he suffered for over a month – the apple remained imbedded in his flesh as a visible souvenir since no one dared to remove it – seemed to have reminded even his father that Gregor was a member of the family, in spite of his present pathetic and repulsive shape, who could not be treated as an enemy; that, on the contrary, it was the commandment of the family duty to swallow their disgust and endure him, endure him and nothing more.

A man might find for a moment that he was unable to work, but that’s exactly the right time to remember his past accomplishments and to consider that later on, when the obstacles has been removed, he’s bound to work all the harder and more efficiently.

The main thing holding the family back from a change in living quarters was far more their complete hopelessness and the idea that they had been struck by a misfortune like no one else in their entire circle of relatives and acquaintances.

The next train left at seven o’clock, and in order to catch it he would have to rush around like mad, and the sample collection was still unpacked and he was not feeling particularly fresh and energetic. And even if he caught the train, a bawling out from the boss was inescapable, because the office messenger had arrived by the five o’clock train and reported his absence long ago; he was the boss’s creature, mindless and spineless.

Sometimes he mulled over the idea that the next time the door opened he would take control of the family affairs as he had done in the past; these musings led him once more after such a long interval to conjure up the figures of the boss, the head clerk, the salesmen, the apprentices, the dullard of an office manager, two or three friends from other firms, a sweet and fleeting memory of a chambermaid in one of the rural hotels, a cashier in a milliner’s shop whom he had wooed earnestly but too slowly- they all appeared mixed up with strangers or nearly forgotten people, but instead of helping him and his family they were each and every one unapproachable, and he was relieved when they evaporated.

“I hope it is nothing serious. On the other hand, I must also say that we business people, luckily or unluckily, however one looks at it, very often simply have to overcome a slight indisposition for business reasons.”

Calm consideration was much better than rushing to desperate conclusions.

And for a little while he lay still, breathing lightly as if he expected total repose would restore everything to its normal and unquestionable state.

The door could not be heard closing; they must have left it open as is usual in houses visited by great misfortune.

For now he must lie low and try, through patience and the greatest consideration, to help his family bear the inconvenience he was bound to cause them in his present condition.

Büyük İnsanlık Kendi Sesinden Şiirler by Nazım Hikmet

I have recently read/listened Nazım Hikmet’s Büyük İnsanlık Kendi Sesinden Şiirler which lead me to write this post.

It’s a poetry book of Nazım Hikmet in Turkish and it comes with a CD. I remember buying it from Turkey during one of my trips.

Nazım Hikmet

There is an interesting story behind the book and its recording. Since you cannot get the book in English, I thought I would write about it for English speaking Nazım Hikmet fans out there. Kathryn Stripling Byer in particular who was one of the judges of Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival in North Carolina.

The CD contains real recording of Nazım’s voice, reading out his own poems. There are two poems in the recording which are new to Nazım’s fans one way or another. One of them has never been published before, neither in Turkish nor in Russian. The other one was published in Russian but not in Turkish.

The Story of the Tape Recording
Nazım Hikmet and Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu (another famous Turkish poet) got together in Paris, perhaps in 1961 to record Nazim’s voice, reading out his own poems. At the time, everything about Nazım Hikmet was banned. As a precaution, Eyüboğlu starts reading one of his own poems, Mor (Purple) in the beginning to make it sound like it’s him all the way through, not Nazım Hikmet.

The book and the CD contain fifty-eight poems by Nazım Hikmet. I must admit, his voice is nothing like I expected to a degree that I’m now struggling to match his face to his voice.

Hiding the Recording
Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu constantly changed the hiding place of the recording in his home as the place was raided and searched by the police regularly. Eventually, after Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s death, Mehmet Eyüboğlu (his son) and Hughette Eyüboğlu (daughter-in-law) inherited the reel. However, it was after Mehmet Eyüboğlu’s death, his wife decided that it was time for the recording to be published.

Because the recording was always well hidden, when Hughette Eyüboğlu finally decided that it was time to hand it over to Eyüboğlu’s publisher (İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları), it took her a week to locate it within the house. She was also looking for something else: Nazım’s portrait done by his mother, Cemile. Nazım had given it to Badri Rahmi Eyüboğlu years ago (see photo below). Now, it’s in the inner cover of this book, protecting the CD.

Nazım Hikmet

Copyright Issues
After the famous ‘Nazım Hikmet’ ban was lifted, all of his poetry was published by Yapı Kredi Yayınları. On the other hand, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s publisher was İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları. Since there are poems in the book which have been published before, you would expect some copyright issues here, wouldn’t you? However, through a unique collaboration between the heirs and the publishers, it wasn’t a problem. Everyone seemed to have focused on getting the book out unconditionally. And for that reason, the book has two publishers.

Nazım Hikmet may not have been able to return to Turkey or even burried there but because of this unique book/CD, at least his voice returned to his beloved country. It just took some fifty years, that’s all.

Evening Class: The very first book I read in English

Evening Class

Evening Class by Maeve Binchy: The Very First Book I read in English.

I remember making an attempt to read The Outsiders in the 80s and after several trips to my dictionary while reading the first page, I decided to give up. Years later, I made another attempt to read Misery or Insomnia —can’t remember—by Stephen King and that didn’t get me anywhere either. The truth is, my English wasn’t good enough at the time and it wasn’t going to be good enough until year 2000. It was only then did I manage to read a book in English. And that book was Evening Class by Maeve Binchy.

Evening Class was also the first book I had read by Maeve Binchy. A friend of mine recommended and lent it to me at the same time. Of course, I didn’t know that the author actually carried several characters from her books into other novels.

The Plot
Evening Class is story about a bunch of Dubliners who come together two evenings a week to study Italian and the culture of Italy. Each chapter in the book is narrated by a different character, revealing their backstories, secrets, hopes and dreams. And the story flows like you wouldn’t believe. I couldn’t put the book down although it was written in a foreighn language.

Maeve Binchy is, without a doubt, one of the best story-tellers of our time. Her characters are so alive and well developed. Her stories have layers, richness, depth and her style wraps you up like a warm blanket.

Years later, after I had read Evening Class, I read several of Maeve Binchy books like Nights of Rain and Stars, The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club and Tara Road —the movie was a disappointment, don’t you think? But, Evening Class was my first love and will always be my favourite.

Book Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

book review outlining novel K. M. WeilandBook Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland entered my life at the right time and in the right way. The right time part is all about learning to write in an orderly fashion before I make a mess. It happens, you know, especially if you are new in this writing business. And I am new! The right way part? This is really cool: I won the book! Along with Katie’s Structuring Your Novel book. Give-aways usually don’t cover Australia but I was lucky this time. My booksarrived, smelling like strawberries and they were both signed. Jealous?

Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

I was convinced that I would be an outliner even before I read Outlining Your Novel. It suits my personality; I am Virgo and I thrive in orderly environments. However, if I needed any further convincing or just plain reassurance, Outlining Your Novel did that, too.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success covers:

• Benefits and misconceptions about outlining
• Choosing the right type of outline for you
• Different outlining tools
• Brainstorming ideas
• Creating and developing characters
• Organising your scenes
• Discover backstory of your characters
• Key story factors like motive, desire, goal, conflict and theme
• Character interviews
• Discovering the setting
• How to format your finished outline
• How to put your outline to use

Outlining Your Novel also includes exclusive interviews with authors like: Becky Levine, Larry Brooks, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Roz Morris, John Robinson, Jody Hedlund, Aggie Villanueva, Lisa Grace, Carolyn Kaufman and Dan L. Hays and you can the interviews at the end of each chapter. The authors answer these important questions:
• Can you describe your outlining process?
• What is the greatest benefit of outlining?
• What is the biggest potential pitfall of outlining?
• Do you recommend “pantsing” for certain situations and outlining for others?
• What’s the most important contributing factor to a successful outline?

Please note that Outlining Your Novel has a workbook (see photo below) which can be bought separately. Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

About the Author

K. M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic, the western A Man Called Outlaw, the medieval epic Behold the Dawn, the portal fantasy Dreamlander, and the historical/dieselpunk adventure Storming. When she’s not making things up, she’s busy mentoring other authors on her award-winning blog HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com. She makes her home in western Nebraska.

No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty

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I have had this book for a very long time but it looks like I had to wait to read it until I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which was last year! NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to practice writing in public to a certain degree and finish your shitty first draft.

Chris Baty is the founder of NaNoWriMo. He’s been there, done it, got the badge. In this book, he shows you how to survive 30 day of novel writing during November, what to eat, where to write, how to socialise, what to expect from each week and eventually write 50.000 words. Additionally, previous NaNoWriMo winners share their experiences and give you many tips. As you can imagine, they’ve been there, done it, got the badge, too.

I took many notes from No Plot? No Problem and put them all together to go through the important parts as part of my preparations. I particularly liked the section about coffee 🙂

If you’re thinking about participating NaNoWriMo at any stage of your writing life, then I’d say get this book.

Book Review: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

book review bird Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird

Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

Have you ever noticed that Bird by Bird is one the most recommended books about writing? Although I cannot remember where the recommendation came from for me, it is the very first book I read about writing. This is the book where “shitty first drafts’ comes from -I tell everyone that it’s a technical term.

I was just going through the book again just to tell you about the chapters -I actually read it in 2007 -and ended up reading it again. Anne Lamott’s swift, witty, honest and approachable writing style draws you in. You literally hear her voice instructing, encouraging and ultimately inspiring you.

Bird by Bird is not only a step-by-step guide on how to write but it also offers help to manage the writer’s life. Maybe it is more about life than writing but it’s still good. The chapters include:

Part One: Writing

Getting Started
Short Assignments
Shitty First Drafts
Perfectionism
School Lunches
Polaroids
Character
Plot
Dialogue
Set Design
False Starts
Plot Treatment
How Do You Know When You’re Done?

Part Two: The Writing Frame of Mind

Looking Around
The Moral Point of View
Broccoli
Radio Station KFKD
Jealousy

Part Three: Help Along the Way

Index Cards
Calling Aroung
Writing Groups
Someone to Read Your Drafts
Letters
Writers Block

Part Four: And Other Reasons to Write

Writing a Present
Finding Your Voice
Giving
Publication

Part Five: The Last Class

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club

The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club

Maeve Binchy’s Evening Class was the first book I have ever read in English. I was so proud of myself for reading a big book in English and enjoying it, too. This one, however, is a guidebook on writing and it has been one of the most approachable ones for me. It is inspired by a course run by The National College of Ireland. The advice in it comes not only from Maeve Binchy herself but also from other writers, editors and publishers. Here’s the list of these experts: Marian Keyes, Alison Walsh, Norah Casey, Paula Campbell, Ivy Bannister, Seamus Hosey, Gerald Dawe, Jim Culleton, Ferdia McAnna and Julie Parsons.

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club is written with charm, humour and generosity. It warms your heart only Maeve Binchy can do. She basically shows us how authors write and covers topics from finding a subject and creating good writing habits to sustaining progress and seeking a publisher. It doesn’t matter if you want to write plays, short stories or mysteries, there is something in it for every one.

At the end of the book, there is an appendix full of suggested further reading, a selection of writing competitions and awards as well as websites and literary journals.

“The most important thing to realize is that everyone is capable of telling a story.” –Maeve Binchy

On Writing by Stephen King

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On Writing by Stephen King

I have a confession to make: I have never ever read any of Stephen King’s books. I remember making an attempt to Misery in English but I dropped it after a few pages  as my English wasn’t good enough at the time. On Writing, however, was recommended by a trustworthy source for writers. I’m glad I took that advice.

Although I have pages of detailed notes from this book on my computer, what you see below somehow made its way up here. Here’s some of the highlights:

Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally  from nowhere, sail at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these  ideas but to recognize them when they show up.

When you’re still too young to shave, optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.

Writers were blessed stenographers taking divine dictation.

In the Durham of my childhood, life wore little or any makeup.

I stood there in the doorway, casting the same shadow as always, but I couldn’t talk.

Finally I gave up and asked the guy behind the counter (the same bald, bored-looking, gray-coated guy who has, I’m convinced, sold alcohol virgins their first bottle since the dawn of commerce) what was cheap.

Silence isn’t what that part is about. It began to scream for help in the only way it knew how, through my fiction and through my monsters.

It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.

The adverb is not your friend.

Fuhgeddaboudit!

Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes.

Critics who try to rise above this intellectual hardening of the arteries usually meet with limited success.

Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest.

… it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.

The scariest moment is just before you start. After that things can only get better. Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates or making friends. In the end it is about enriching the lives of those who will read your work and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Much of this book – perhaps too much – has been about how I learned to do it.

Much of it is about how you can do it better. The rest of it – and perhaps the best of it – is a permissionship. You can, you should and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. So drink. Drink and be filled up.’