PositiveSlateIt’s a tale pitting two Goliaths against one octogenarian David, untangled in exacting, riveting detail by Israeli author Benjamin Balint in his new book, Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy. The story Balint tells is one of an interminable trial between doomed parties, in which physical struggles morph into questions about identity, self, and existential belonging. If only there were some author whose name is now an adjective used to describe exactly such stories! At stake is the literary estate of Max Brod, the German-speaking Prague author who famously disobeyed his best friend’s dying wish. Brod became Kafka’s literary executor, introducing the 20th century to its greatest writer—and, needless to say, hanging on to every scrap of paper Kafka touched that he could find.
RaveSlateThe End of the Perfect 10 is so exhaustively researched, its narrative so thoughtfully woven, its intellectual commitment so present, that despite a few tiny missteps—chapters about the Károlyis that deviate far from the scoring-system narrative, for example—it still blows the lid off any book of its kind.