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Book Review: The Meowmorphosis by Franz Kafka and Coleridge Cook

September 13, 2011 5 comments

Cat head in suit.Summary:
Gregor Samsa goes to bed and wakes up as an adorable snuggly kitten!  He has trouble making up his mind about anything, though, and is easily distracted by things like dust and canned fish.  Plus, his family clearly are not cat people.

Review:
This is the first Quirk Classic that I’ve read, mainly because all the others were based on classics I don’t like to start with (Jane Austen and Anna Karenina).  However, “The Metamorphosis” is one of my faaaavorite short stories.  Although, I will always insist that Gregor woke up as a grasshopper, not a cockroach.  (I was the only one in my AP English class who thought this.  Whatever).  In spite of its (epically awesome win) name, this actually also incorporates another Kafka story “The Trial,” which I have not read.  Anyway, when this came up as an EarlyReviewer I obviously needed to have a copy.

The main problem with reworking “The Metamorphosis” to be a cat is that, well, cats are adorable and playful and perfectly normal household cats whereas a giant insect is not.  A lot of the depression, ennui, and conflict in the original story comes from Gregor being an insect.  While Cook does a good job showing the internal workings of a cat brain to go with their adorably quirky behavior, the actions of the family are less understandable.  What is up with this family hating on their adorable son?  Why do they lock him away in a room?  What is up with that?  Of course this gets addressed later when Gregor grows to a disturbingly large size and can barely move around.  I couldn’t help but think of that obese cat that was on the news last year.  However, at that point he was sort of just becoming the monster they were treating him as.  Ok, I just read what I wrote, and quite possibly that is the point of the story.  However, while reading it, it certainly bogged me down.

I also have to say that I didn’t like the illustrations that went with the story.  Somehow, the illustrator actually managed to make pictures of cats that I didn’t squee over.  There’s something wrong with that picture.

Overall I’d say that I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading this, per se, but I also sort of wish I’d just re-read “The Metamorphosis” and hunted down a copy of “The Trial.”  As someone who can be a bit of an emo reader at times, nothing beats Kafka’s brand of ennui and depression.  Why brighten it up with a kitty?  Just…..why?

I’d recommend this book to that odd juxtaposition of reader who loves depressing European lit and doesn’t mind it being brightened up by an adorable kitty.  I think only you will know if that describes you.

3 out of 5 stars

Source:  Free copy from the publisher via LibraryThing’s EarlyReviewers in exchange for my honest review

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