I receive e-mails from ABE.com, from time to time, regarding various fun book subjects, but one I never bothered clicking on is their monthly roundup of most expensive books. I suppose I didn’t think it was worth my attention, seeing as I couldn’t afford whatever it was that sold. But, bored, my curiosity finally piqued, I perused their page. What I found was very interesting, in that I’ve read none of them, other than many of Shakespeare’s plays, and most I’ve never heard of. To my surprise, the top money earner, at $30,00o is Die Verwandlung or for we who can’t read German–Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. $30,000 buckeroonies! That’s a nice down payment on a house. And my teeny brain goes on from there–how is this sum paid? Check? Credit card? Debit card? If you have that much in your account that you can use a debit card, I tip my my non-exsistent hat to you! (hats are too expensive these days). How about a chest full of gold doubloons? I realize $30,000 is a pittance to those who have money and collect books. I believe at one upscale book show in Manhattan, a signed The Maltese Falcon was going for $5o,000. Naturally, my husband who has no fear, or shame, asked to see it out of the case, and was permitted to touch it! Eek! My fiscal life flashed before my eyes, until it was safely back under glass. I’ve no doubt some Daddy Warbucks came along and bought it gushing about how the movie is one of his favorites. Apparently the 1915 Metamorphosis in German had less than a thousand copies printed, and the english edition wasn’t available until 1937. Famous book, small print run, eureka, pricey tome!
I have not, and will not ever read this book. Why you ask, or not, doesn’t matter I’m going to tell you anyway. Is it because I don’t like Kafka? No, but having never read him, the jury’s out. Am I anti-German? No, my great great grandfather came over on the boat from Germany.(I’m pretty sure he never read Kakfa either). Am I a snob in reverse–meaning, I won’t read ‘great lit’, only lowbrow romances? Hardly (does Thirty Shades of Grey count?) Do I have it in for anyone named Franz? (at first I typed in Frank when attributing authorship, thankfully I realized my error before posting, I can imagine the indignant Franz fans out there) No, no problem with the name, although when I see it, I do picture a family singing Edelweiss as they try to escape the Nazis. Do I hate insects? Bing! Bing! Bing! Right answer! I abhor insects in almost any form, excepting perhaps butterflies and ladybugs, although I have looked at them askance from time to time. I hate spiders and their webs–do you know that water will not bring a web down? I’ve tried, oh boy have I tried wiping out spiderwebs hanging from the facade of the house with a power wash hosing. No dice. And if by chance one does disappear, that nasty weaver simply spins another.
Ants, ugh ugh ugh. Every spring, ants in the potted plants drive my mother mad, and who has to deal? Me. Once we had a picnic with an old blanket as our table. I brought it back to the apartment without checking–next thing I knew an entire army was marching towards the cats in my bedroom, ready to crawl up and over to achieve their mission of ransacking the kitchen. Then there are those horrible things that shed their crusty outside and leave it behind in the dirt for me to scoop up innocently in my hand while weeding. My screams have been known to wake the comatose.
No matter how cute Disney paints him, Jiminy Cricket cannot make me love those annoying noise polluters. Caterpillars?? Even colorful ones are not welcome. Yeah, I know I know, from hence butterflies are born. Couldn’t they stay hidden until their, ha, metamorphosis? Praying Mantis are protected by law, which means I have to stifle my stomping instinct. The terrorist of bugs have been delivered to the USA by the Chinese. I’m apt to believe this is some kind of stealth warfare on their part. Their strategy? Insidiously introduce the most grotesque brown/grey textured leggy large insect that seems to propagate like flies (don’t get me started on flies) and watch how they take over every Americans home, driving the inhabitants mad, mad, mad! They don’t need to out job us, or lend us money into bankruptcy, those stink bugs will take down the American spirit one smelly squash at a time. And, and, and, they FLY! With a bone chilling hum, evoking thoughts of buzz saw massacres. They are sneaky, able to use camouflage to hide behind boxes, curtains, almost anything. Light pulls them up and over–usually to land on my computer screen. My screams these times can literally wake the dead–probably because there’s a cemetery right down the block.
So, famous, a classic, rare, who cares? If a man is turned into an insect in the plot, the most likely response from me is to slam the book shut and smash my heel violently all over the dust jacket. And considering my reverence for the written word, I’d never want to be responsible for the defamation and destruction of a book. Unless there are bookworms living within.