Writing By Brian Herbert

"A few words about Kafka's Uncle:
An alternate universe? A different dimension? The "Id" of America? Meet Anslenot and his tormentor/confidant, a giant tarantula as they wander through a blasted, desecrated landscape of broken ideals and shattered hopes. In this land, (a subconscious vision of Kafka mixed with Lewis Carroll and with a touch of Karel Capek?), NOTHING is right: the Militant Lamps fight with the Opposition and no one knows whose side who is on."

And meet the little red haired girl who tries to talk to Anslenot about co-dependency and other Recovery Issues but, alas, gets nowhere, because Anslenot is so sick that he has no idea how sick he is. And then there is President Maotse Boosh and his message of Mao-Tse-Boosh-Thought: 'Consumers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your money.'

And when the heavens take pity on Anslenot and arrange the stars to form the message that Anslenot desperately needs to have to make sense of it all, a parade, led by a clown in red, white and blue greasepaint, starts up, complete with lights, fireworks and, of course, the message is totally obscured. This leads Anslenot to the only choice left -- to take over the journey of Kafka's character in his classic story, The Bucket Rider -- leading Anslenot out of a nightmare America, morally, ethically and politically hopelessly gridlocked in the Fastlane -- and ascending, he goes into the regions beyond the ice mountains, into the regions... beyond the ice."

-- Bruce Taylor

 

Introduction to
Kafka's Uncle
and Other Strange Tales

by Brian Herbert

The first thing to understand about Bruce Taylor is that he's an esoteric original. He doesn't copy other writers and doesn't care a whit about commercialism, though if you look deeply enough, you might think you see sprinklings of Ray Bradbury and Franz Kafka, set in a Taylorian universe of Magic Realism. Bruce cares most of all about his art, which places him far above the petty and mundane concerns of other purveyors of the written word. He's not plastic or phoney. He's real.

Trained as a psychiatric counselor, he is a stream-of-consciousness writer, a person who lets it flow in high-energy bursts. This is especially remarkable when you realize that he has, for many years, suffered from diabetes, a strength-sapping illness that has required much of his attention. Through sheer willpower, he has controlled this debility and has created a remarkable life for himself, and a remarkable life's work. He is a prolific writer of short stories, and has garnered considerable acclaim for them. I am one of his admirers, and I am not alone. More and more, this man's talent is being recognized.

One day critics will say that so-and-so writes like Bruce Tayor, because by that time Bruce will be so incredibly well known and (horror of horrors!) commercially successful that people will begin to copy him. At least they will be trying , but I don't know to what extent such an effort can be successful. Bruce isn't a formula-type person who is easily subject to analysis, and is undoubtedly resistant to any sort of replication effort, whether computer aided or otherwise. He writes what is on his mind, in whatever manner suits his fancy.

He's also my backpacking buddy, on many a trip into the untrammeled wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. On a regular basis-whenever he feels overwhelmed by the burdens and B.S. of civilization - Bruce needs to go out and commune with nature, where it recharges his batteries. I remember one evening in particular when we watched the incredible gathering of dusk over the Enchantment Lakes. The sky changed as the purple swept over us, and moments later - far to the west, beyond trees and mountains - we noticed an eerie, sickly yellow glow, reminding us that we had not escaped after all. It was the lights of Seattle against the sky, from seventy-five miles away.

Bruce and I are in an eclectic writing group that comprises quite a range of personalities and talents, including: Linda Shepherd (a feminist writer who is also a Ph.D. biochemist); Cal Clawson (a writer of math books and western novels); Marie Landis (a science fiction/fantasy writer who is an accomplished painter); and Phyllis Lambert (a scientist who writes about human aging and about monkeys in car washes). Somewhere in all of this, Bruce and I seem to fit in, or at least we haven't been asked to leave yet. At our Friday evening sessions, the conversations are catholic (with a small "c") ranging from Plato, Einstein and vampires to debates over whether the fisherman in one of our stories should haul up a human toe or an eyeball. To catagorize the members of our group (and Bruce to a large extent), it might be said that we're interested in everything, and we're a support group for the fragile creative psyches of writers. Bruce is an integral part of this, and for years, I have appreciated his intellectual input and emotioanal support.

In his writing and in his life, Bruce is on a journey of the soul and of the imagination, stretching the limits to consciousness and perception. To a large degree this has to do with his attempt to understand his parents and in particular his father, and in this regard, I am a kindred spirit with him. Joseph Campbell once said that the quest for one's father is a hero's journey, and I know from personal experience that it can be an ardous, painful pursuit, but one that can lead to incredible enlightenment. Much of Bruce Taylor's prose is written from the perspective of a bright child, one who is in some pain but overcomes it by seeing the world of adults as truly bizarre, whimsical and weird. It's important to realize that Bruce's stories are not strange; the world is, and he's separated himself from it in order to show us new realities, with remarkable clarity and insight.

Brian Herbert
Bainbridge Island, WA
May, l998

 

"What the red haired girl in this novel might say if she were to read this manuscript:
"This really should be dedicated in loving memory of certain Republican presidents of the last quarter of the twentieth century and their fellow fascist followers who, by thinking they invoked God in justifying their cause, actually believed they were totally different than the worst Communist followers who invoked Marx to justify their cause. Sorry. Totalitarianism is totalitarianism, no matter if it's right or left."

What the author might say about this manuscript if he were so inclined:
"To the generation of the seventies and eighties and--alas--the nineties. There are no words for the ache and the despair. May this give laughter to the tears."

She sees nothing and hears nothing; but all the same she loosens her apron-strings and waves her apron to waft me away. She suceeds, unluckily. My bucket has all the virtues of a good steed except powers of resistance, which it has not; it is too light; a woman's apron can make it fly through the air. "You bad woman!" I shout back, while she, turning into the shop, half-contemptuous, half-reassured, flourishes her fist in the air. "You bad woman! I begged you for a shovelful of the worst coal and you would not give me it." And with that I ascend into the regions of the ice mountains and am lost forever. The Bucket Rider, by Franz Kafka; p.343, Short Stories, Classic, Modern, Contemporary, edited by Marcus Klien, Robert Pack, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, © 1967
-- Bruce Taylor

 

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