My Kafka Century


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Action Books, 2005
ISBN 0-9765692-2-1


Go through the window and you become an animal
and are so happy to lie in your little round bed, stuffed with cedar

—from “Shirley Temple, Black”

In My Kafka Century, Arielle Greenberg raises the gothic, European ghosts sealed under the glib facade of contemporary American culture. Trying on the sometimes hilarious, sometimes discomforting guises of Jewish folk humor, pop eroticism and kiddie epistemology, she reveals and revels in the cracks and contradictions of a bristling, brainy Babel.


From My Kafka Century:
Please Be Good

Something big and ugly with a long thin tail, something white with mottled fur, something barrel-bodied. Something went shuffling fatly into the brush at the side of the road tonight. And then there was a silver field mouse being horrible and small on the driveway. Then a waterbug with its bristle of silky, tickling arms by the fridge. A secret let out. A scream. I am slightly drunk, slightly more or less like a girl: is this a door? A keyhole? A handle? A pervert? When I lean over my blood is in my ears. I sleep with my fear in there, vertigo, also blood again. I lean over as an experiment — sudden flush of pass-out ocean? Bug? Rodent? Yes, pervert. Yes, with a tail. Cockroaches actually inside my canals. Dreams actually swarming with vermin trying to come in all the window screns. I have come out of the walls. The rat is more or less a migraine. I am all suited up in roadkill: stole, collar, purse. I keep an insect here. These are my cleanest sheets.