"My grandfather used to say: 'Life is astoundingly short. To me, looking back over it, life seems so foreshortened that I scarcely understand, for instance, how a young man can decide to ride over to the next village without being afraid that - not to mention accidents - even the span of a normal happy life may fall far short of the time needed for such a journey.'"
Franz Kafka, 'The Next Village'
A few months back I was contacted by novelist Keith Ridgway regarding a project he's been promoting. The idea was very straightforward: Ridgway told me that he had been deeply affected by Kafka's short story, 'The Next Village', and was interested in hearing what other people thought. From this, he initiated a project whereby readers are asked to personally respond to the story, in whatever form or medium they feel appropriate.
The result, The Next Village, is a website archiving readers' contributions as they come in. It's still in its early stages, but there are already examples of short prose, poetry, photography, video and music. I shared Ridgway's enthusiasm for the project and contributed a short story of my own, inspired by Kafka's 'The Next Village', entitled 'The Envelope'. You can read my modest offering, and see other people's work, by visiting the website at thenextvillage.org. If you like, you can even send in something of your own.