How it’s New York: In NYC, as in Prague, literary figures can bump into each other in unexpected ways.
How it’s Irish: Kevin Holohan is Irish, and is thinking about the Irish author Flann O’Brien, and his silly, sometimes groan-inducing book, “The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman,” as he writes his own– set in Prague.
With all due respect and admiration for the Keats and Chapman vehicle invented by Flann O’Brien aka Myles na gCopaleen, who among us has not had a Keats and Chapman moment? A play on words so contrived and twisted that only Keats and Chapman together can possibly bear its excruciating weight. This is mine:
It so happened that Keats and Chapman were visiting Prague when they ran into the young Franz Kafka.
Kafka, though reluctant to insinuate himself into their company happily obliged when Keats asked if he would show them around the beautiful city. After a long walking tour during which they stopped several times to sample the local beers, the three of them found themselves in Prague Castle.
Somewhat inebriated, Chapman challenged Kafka to don a suit of armor and bet him ten shillings he could not do so. Kafka, not an avaricious man but one who could not turn his nose up at an easy ten shillings, quickly took a suit of armor from the landing where the three of them stood unobserved.
Unfortunately while helping to secure the breastplate, Keats stumbled and sent the unfortunate Kafka tumbling down the stairs and into a case filled with china figurines. The inevitable crashing brought the custodian rushing to the scene. Finding the figure in the armor too stunned to communicate, the custodian berated Keats and Chapman and pointed out the damage and demanded immediate reparations. Keats, taking Chapman by the arm and guiding him towards the exit smiled winningly at the custodian and, nodding at the supine figure on the floor reassuringly promised,
“Fear not sir, the Czech is in the mail.”