Imitation Exercise – ‘Short Talks’ by Anne Carson

The following is what resulted from an exercise in imitation from Kelcey Parker’s W301 – Fiction class. Content is our own, though structure and style to some extent is an imitation of a piece read in class I’m imitating a section of Short Talks by Anne Carson, from The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories.

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On Writers (Perpetuus Starvingi)

It is breaths of the small and raspy variety that Franz Kafka is struggling to partake in. Tuberculosis has made his throat so painful it is impossible for him to eat. His hair is still neat, his humor as dry and empty as his stomach. Starving. Artist. It is while contemplating this that I cannot quit wondering what he might have thought of life imitating art. He may be his hunger artist, he may be his Gregor, perhaps his Condemned, but certainly, certainly—his Traveler.

On Kafkaesque

The weight of a decision, the culminating velocity of fear cripples everyone. Look at all those terrified people in Kafka’s black little worlds. The worlds are not that far apart, nor that far away from us—perhaps a mere heart attack or two away—and he keeps doing it, keeps showing us what we really are, teaching us the realities of a world without a net. We asked him why he does this, over and over. The first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die, he revealed without speaking. He offered a tour of what he had learned most recently and we thought better of it, taking bits of electricity into our hearts until it was too bright to read the words on the page. The sound of them turning—his breaths again and again.

On Kafka About His Statue in Prague

Uncanny. The likeness is stunning! But who is that strange fellow astride my shoulders?

On Betrayal Among Friends

Kafka’s final request to his friend Max Brod was that all of his work be burned, unread. Modesty and socially-anxious, in light of even death, should perhaps be our portrait for all things Kafkaesque.

One thought on “Imitation Exercise – ‘Short Talks’ by Anne Carson”

  1. This is pretty interesting. But I don’t think I have enough context to really comment. Maybe if I read Carson’s piece. What you’re saying about Kafka, though, almost seems too easy. Maybe it seems imitated — like a ripoff. Maybe that’s the point.

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