Kafka And The Power of Metaphor
Posted by Jon Littman on October 13, 2010 in Innovation, Publishing, Storytelling

STORYTELLING FOR ME has always been about figuring a way in. As a journalist and author, I think mainly in three ways. Why do I care, how do I gain access to the characters or key facts, and how do I write something that strikes a cord. I recently wrote a piece called Lance Armstrong’s Trial: Franz Kafka, Anyone for the Huffington Post. It struck me that Lance Armstrong is being judged and tried without a formal trial, as in Kafka’s chilling novel. So I wrote a story that began:

The difference between Franz Kafka’s The Trial and Lance Armstrong’s story is that one is fiction, the other fact. No crime has been charged against Lance Armstrong. No government authority has stepped forward to charge the cyclist. Though the Drug Enforcement Agency investigates drug trafficking, they have not stepped forward to take responsibility. Indeed, while Agent Jeff Novitzky of the Food and Drug Agency has seemed to be the lead inquisitor, it is not even known if the FDA is behind this peculiar massive federal investigation of an American cyclist’s actions while competing in a French bicycle race.”

Two days later, Fast Company wrote a piece on Armstrong and what the scandal might mean for his Cancer Crusade, writing: “Meanwhile, Armstrong hasn’t been charged or told what the charges might be. The whole affair sounds like something out of Kafka, Jonathan Littman wrote on the Huffington Post.”

Here’s my piece in the Huffington Post and the Fast Company: